Hopewell Culture National Historical Park

We weren’t planning to visit this park, and I didn’t even know it was here. But we spotted it on the way into Chillicothe and when Lucy Hayes’ house was closed we decided to salvage something from the day and stop by.

Hopewell Culture National Historical Park consists of several groups of mounds. The ones in Chillicothe are known as the Mound City Group. Very little is known about the Indians who lived here and built these mounds. There’s no written record and all that’s left behind is a few artifacts and the remnants of the mounds they built.

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Some of the mounds, like the ones at this site, were burial mounds. The ones at other sites seem to be connected to the calendar.

The Mound City Group consists of 23 mounds, most of which have been rebuilt after they were destroyed by farming and Camp Sherman, a World War I troop camp. Only the one large mound in the middle of the field survived. Here’s a map.

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We toured the small museum of artifacts, watched a short video that put us both to sleep and then walked the mile-long trail around the outside of the site.

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The area inside the circling ridge is about the size of 10 football fields. The mounds started as buildings, used for funeral ceremonies. The buildings were then dismantled and mounds were built on the ruins. The mounds consist of layers of clay and sand.

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The Indian culture is named for a farmer, Mordecai Hopewell, who happened to own the land at one point.

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That’s the Scioto River on the right in the next photo. The Indians apparently didn’t live on or near the mounds but off in the woods in small communities of two or three lodges.

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As you can see, there really wasn’t much to look at. But the weather was pleasant and it was nice to be outside. And we learned some stuff.

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