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Archaeological Complex Showcases Locally Manufactured Products

Beri Fox, Marble King’s president/CEO, shows 5-year-old Shaylee Wright of Paden City, an exhibit that was featured at the White House earlier this year, during an event at the Grave Creek Mound Archaeological Complex in Moundsville Tuesday which celebrated Marble King’s 70th Anniversary. The event was held in conjunction with the opening of two new exhibits at the facility.

MOUNDSVILLE — Hundreds of local students were invited to the Grave Creek Mound Archaeological Complex in Moundsville Tuesday afternoon to witness the unveiling of an exhibit on the region’s manufacturing history.

Marshall and Wetzel County elementary school students were brought in to view a Marble King exhibit, which represented West Virginia at the White House “Made in America” Showcase earlier this year, and to learn about the Paden City marble giant.

The event was held Tuesday afternoon in conjunction with the official grand opening ceremonies of two new permanent exhibits — an exhibit on Louis Marx and Company and Fostoria Glass Company — that were held Tuesday evening at the Moundsville museum.

The toy exhibit features dozens of Marx toys and other memorabilia, while the glass exhibit features more then 200 pieces of Fostoria glass in an elaborate wooden case. It was one “big day” of events, which will continue feature the history of three local manufacturers at the Moundsville complex, according to Site Director Jeremy Kohus.

The two new exhibits are being permanently showcased at the complex, along with a Marble King exhibit which has been on display at the facility for more than 10 years. Randell Reid-Smith, curator of the West Virginia Department of Arts, Culture and History, expressed an interest in having some additional locally manufactured products housed at the GCMAC as part of celebrating the state’s great history. Reid-Smith attended the afternoon event at the complex, which celebrated Marble King’s 70th Anniversary.

Francis Turner, a longtime collector of Marx toys and owner of the Marx toys museum, and Curator of Fostoria Glass Museum Cassie Clark were both on hand to cut ribbons for their respective new exhibits and talk with people during the evening event.

Moundsville resident Ed Tomlinson, who stopped to enjoy the opening of the Marx toys exhibit, said he worked in the machine shop as a toy manufacturer for nearly 15 years between the mid-1960s and late 70s. He said the exhibit brought back fond memories.

“Best place I ever worked in my life. The people were friendly,” Tomlinson said.

In addition to the timeline exhibits and collectible marbles that Marble King already has on display at the museum, Marble King officials brought a one-day exhibit which was showcased at the White House earlier this year, according to Beri Fox, Marble King’s president and CEO.

“We had over 240 children that we entertained today. … They got to take a tour of the facility,” Fox said. “They learned how to play the game of marbles upstairs, and they learned why some marbles have greater value than others down here at the collector’s table.”

She said the students also got to view the “West Virginia Marble King’s Gift to the World” permanent exhibit, which features a marble wall that has over 45,000 marbles. In addition, the kids had a chance to view and play with the same display that was featured at the White House, which includes a musical marble tree.

Fox said the students had the opportunity to watch a video where they could see the president and vice president viewing the same display.

“They could see the interaction of the president playing with some of the things that are here (on the table) … and one thing they seemed impressed by, they got to interact with the same display,” Fox said.

Fox also honored a small group of Marble King employees and spoke about the history of the manufacturer during a brief reception in the complex theater.

“We are excited to celebrate 70 years of marble making in West Virginia,” Fox said.

She added that while technology has changed considerably over the past 70 years, marbles are still being made as they were decades ago and while there have been significant advancements in the melting furnace technology, the “rollers” that make the marbles round are essentially still the same.

She said Marble King is honored to be recognized by Reid-Smith and the Department of Arts, Culture and History.

“Marbles are a true part of West Virginia’s great history. We feel fortunate to be a part of it,” Fox said.

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