Hocking Hills Ohio

My last post included our first Fun Stuff© day at Hocking Hills State Park…which turns out to be pretty much fun-less as we saw the waterless falls and came home…that was on Friday.

Our plans were to do nothing over the weekend…as a state park not too far of a drive from Cincinnati and Columbus we figured it would fill up to capacity. So our plan was to sit under the awning on the veranda and watch the world go by. We were on the shade side of the rig for a change and the weather while in the 80s was pretty dry and there was a little breeze so it was quite comfortable sitting out there with an adult beverage and waving/chatting with folks as they walked by. Neil grilled carne asada carnitas pork one night and a skirt steak the other night…both were pretty outstanding. We went up to Logan OH about 12 miles northeast for Mass but other than that the weekend was a do-nothing weekend.

Monday we had a day trip down to Chillicothe OH to see the Hopewell Culture National Historic Park…which is essentially some Indian burial mounds. Neil was not really thinking that these would be worthwhile…but as it turned out he was incorrect and they were much more interesting than he thought.

So…Hopewell Indian culture…what is it? Well…it’s not actually about the Hopewell Indians as we don’t know what they called themselves as they had no written language. The people inhabited this area of Ohio from 2000 BC to 1500 BC, but rather than living in villages they predominantly lived in small scale (2-3 huts) groups that were probably familial in nature. Despite this dispersed culture…they were responsible for creating the largest earthworks in North America…some of them requiring as many as 1.5 million baskets of earth to be moved…and the works were not just piled up dirt but had multiple layers of gravel, sand, straw, and dirt with a 20 inch layer of gravel on top of both the mounds and the surrounding walls. The name Hopewell comes from Captain Mordecai Hopewell who owned the farm where the first site was excavated in the 1890s.

The mounds are primarily…but not exclusively…burial sites containing cremated remains and artifacts at the center of the mound…most are round ranging up to 60 feet in diameter and a dozen or more feet high with a few elliptical mounds the same night but about 140 feet long and 30 feet wide. There are 5 major sites…most of which contain a square, large circle, and smaller circle. The sizes of the walls are consistent throughout the sites despite them being up to 60 miles apart and all are oriented the same geographically in line with constellations or solstices depending on which archeologist you choose to believe. The burial mounds are always in the large circle if a site contains all 3 shapes (4 of 5 are this way) and they are in the square at the main site which only has the square and the small circle. The square dimensions fit precisely inside the large circle where they are present…and the arrangement of the 3 structures is pretty consistent. The bottom line is that for whatever reason they were built…they were pretty much built the same way.

The main site…Hopewell Mound City…which we visited, has the largest number (40) of burial mounds and the largest mound all located within the square. The square and circle walls are about 10 feet wide and 6 feet or so tall. At Mound City…all of the mounds have been archeologically excavated and then reconstructed…although whether they were reconstructed to the original layered construction was not mentioned in either the excellent movie at this site or any of the information signs posted throughout.

The Indians obviously had a wide ranging trade system in place…as the mounds contain artifacts made out of obsidian from Colorado, copper from the Great Lakes region, shark teeth and shells from the Gulf of Mexico, silver from the Ontario region, and mica from the local area. The copper was found as small nuggets which were then pounded flat, then multiple flat pieces pounded to form a single sheet, then formed into various artifacts.

Pano taken from the back door of the visitor center looking out towards the square. These structures are huge…the squares are all about 20 acres, the large circles 27 acres, and the smaller circles about 60% of the size of the large circles. 

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The wall of the square…this is the same area at the end of the sidewalk in the center of the above pano.

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Looking out at the mounds.

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This tree obviously didn’t survive the recent lightning strike.

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Mound 7…this is the largest single mound…I left the people in for scale.

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Elliptical mound…which to our eyes was much larger in volume than mound 7 albeit slightly shorter and narrower but 5 or 6 times in length.

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More mounds in the far corner of the square.

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Some interior shots of the museum…copper hands.

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This is a bear according to the label…but it don’t look much like me so Ima not convinced. Looks more like a hippo or pig to me.

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Bone tools on the left and obsidian ear stretchers on the right. The latter are about 1 inch in diameter and fit into and stretch a hole pierced through the lower earlobe…they look quite uncomfortable to install.

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Deer antlers made of copper.

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Carved stone.

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All in all…it was actually pretty interesting and way better than Neil thought it would be.

We headed home and then went out for dinner at this fancy-schmancy restaurant nearby…the Inn at Cedar Falls. Somewhat pricey as our bill before tip was $95 but that included 6 glasses of wine and 2 entrees…we sampled Merlot and Pinot Noir during Happy Hour at the bar and then had Sauvignon Blanc to go with our Bourbon-Maple Salmon (Connie) and Cajun Chicken Alfredo Pasta (Neil). Both dishes were excellent as was the wine…it’s probably the best $100 meal we’ve had in quite a long time. The only drawback was that they screwed up the check and filled out a “charge it to my room” ticket instead of charging it to the card Neil gave the waitress…who was actually the manager as it turned out the next day when we went the 2 miles back there to fix their screwup.

We had another Fun Stuff© day scheduled for Wednesday…but it was unavoidably cancelled due to power issues in the rig. Along about 0130 this morning…our Progressive electrical management system tripped us off the shore power cable and after 30 minutes of troubleshooting we had no joy so we just opened the windows, turned off the A/C units, and pretended we were boon docking on the battery overnight. We had scheduled an early departure for a couple of hikes back down in Chillicothe…but after troubleshooting the problem for a couple of hours and finding out it was the 50 amp circuit breaker in our power pedestal…then waiting until the park maintenance guy came by and replaced it…well by that time it was almost 1000 so we just cancelled the trip…it would have been too hot to hike much by the time we got down there at lunchtime which was the reason for our originally planned early departure. So…we’ll just hang out again today.

Tomorrow we’re off 65 miles east to Coolville, OH which is just across the river from Parkersburg WV…where we’ll have Fun Stuff© Friday and Saturday, sit at home on the rainy day on Sunday, then head out for a 2 day travel to grand baby Alex on Monday via Lexington VA.

Interesting stuff found on the net.











About Gunther

The full time RV travels and experiences of Gunther the Bear and Kara the Dog…along with their human staff neil and Connie.
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