After months of scouring the south campus with nothing to show for it, a group of archaeologists recently announced the discovery of an ancient tomb thought to belong to UW–Stout founder James Huff Stout in the basement of North Hall. The expedition was funded by the state last May after one student claimed to have found one of the founder’s gold-encrusted chalices in one of the basement’s restrooms. Thanks to this new find, more funding is expected to be given to fully excavate the entire tomb.
James Huff Stout, the man who UW–Stout is named after, is thought to have lived sometime between the 17th and 20th centuries. Most information on him has been lost to time, although a small number of his portraits and busts have been found so far.
“He really was a visionary. Not many have the gall to use their own name for a university instead of the town it’s in,” said local historian Randy Prickler. “I’ve been waiting my whole academic career for a find like this. Hopefully this crypt is more revealing than the autobiography we found last year.” Prickler is the manager of the Menomonie Historical Society and one of the country’s foremost experts on James Huff Stout. He is expected to have a significant role in the expedition into the crypt, which is expected to take place sometime in the next few days.
Not much of the tomb has been explored as of yet, though efforts are being made to prepare for lengthy trips down into the North Hall basement. Much of what archaeologists have found so far has only confirmed what we already know: UW–Stout was originally founded as several Sears department stores, and was later converted into a technical college. However, there are signs that more information might be hidden in the deepest antechamber. Hieroglyphics adorn nearly all of the crypt walls, and they seem to be telling a story of the university’s history.
Archaeologists can only speculate as to what they truly represent; linguists are scrambling to translate the complex glyphs.
Despite the fact that these findings have been extremely recent, officials are already planning where to search next. So far Jarvis Hall, Micheels Hall and Lot 21 are all being considered for archaeological surveys, though no concrete connections to James Huff Stout have been confirmed yet. All eyes will be on the UW–Stout campus in the coming months as more and more ancient mysteries are unearthed.