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Museum features famous mummies

June 28, 2012
By Melissa Toothman - Staff Writer , The Inter-Mountain

The Barbour County Historical Museum rests inside the former B&O Railroad Station at the junction of Routes 119 and 250 on the southern end of the Philippi Covered Bridge and across from the Vietnam Memorial Park.

The museum exhibits many artifacts of the Civil War including guns, flags, cannons, weapons, knives, railroad items, newspapers, manuscripts and publications, ceramics and the Myers switchboard. But perhaps one of the most prized artifacts the museum has to offer visitors are the world famous Philippi mummies.

The world fame of the mummies is the result of their appearance in many tours across North America and parts of Europe as an attraction for P.T. Barnum's Circus in the late 1800s.

They were previously known as the "Hamrick Mummies" for more than 100 years, named after their preserver, farmer and amateur scientist Graham Hamrick, a native and resident of Barbour County. Hamrick purchased the two female cadavers in 1888 from the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum of Weston for an experiment.

Hamrick intended to mummify the cadavers with his own embalming recipe he had already practiced on other non-human subjects. It succeeded. However, as Hamrick experimented numerous times afterward, it has not been proven whether the mummies on display at the museum are in fact, the original mummies used in his experiment.

Now, the mummies are displayed in the museum beneath the glass tops of a coffin. Paying a visit to the museum to see the mummies isn't a pocket breaking expenditure, either. They can be viewed for just $1 per visit.



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