May 9 - Across Ohio: Mound City and Serpent Mound

There was another Westfalia in this camp ground last night. It's just outside of Athens, so I drove through The Ohio University campus this morning as I made my way Westward, just as classes were changing, ahhhhh, the college life.

The Ohio farmland began to open up again, somewhat flat with rolling hills in the south central part of the state. I stopped near Chillocothe to visit the Hopewell Culture National Historic Park, also known as Mound City. This is a huge field right above a bend in the Scioto River where Indians built earthworks and burial mounds between 1,500 and 2,000 years ago. They found everything from adorned bodies and animal effigies to pipes and glass beads in these mounds during excavations as early as the 1840's. It's hard to imagine the time and effort it would have taken to build these things. An earthen wall surrounded the entire field, inside there were more than 20 mounds, round ones and oblong ones. We call these Indians the Hopewell today, only because they did a lot of excavating on a farm owned by a man named Mordecai Hopewell late in the 1800's. We'll never know what they called themselves. This immediate area is thought to have supported about 20,000 people.

After Mound City I drove to another Indian site, the famous snake effigy, Serpent Mound. They aren't quite sure who built this earthwork, some say the Adena, others say it was the Fort Ancient. Whoever built it had a lot of time and energy to devote to it. The land where Serpent Mound is was bought by Harvard University in the 1885 so it could be preserved and studied. An archeologist from The Peabody Museum at Harvard, Fredrick Ward Putnam, had visited and saw that it was slowly being destroyed by plowing and that it needed to be preserved. Eventually it was handed over to the Ohio Historical Society for care and preservation.

In the early evening I arrived in Cincinnati, home. I will have a week or so here, the van will be looked at and preventive maintenance will be done to ensure a safe and reliable vehicle for the big leg of the trip to the West coast.

 

 

 

 

 


The Scioto River, adjacent to mound city.


A few of the mounds at Mound City.

Mound City.
 
Mound City.
 
Looking down on Serpent Mound.

 
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