Tuesday, May 10, 2016

North Florida Indian Mounds

Carole and I love to visit sites that relate to American history. We always have a blast learning about America's past. We especially enjoy archaeological sites and parks.

Northern Florida has a number of Native American mound complexes. Many of these were obliterated over the years by European farmers and developers who used the mounds as fill material to use in construction or drainage projects. There is quite actually no telling what kind of history and artifacts we lost when mounds were removed to make room for fields or foundations.

Two mound complexes that are still at least partially present are the ones in the Letchworth-Love Mounds Archaeological State Park and the Lake Jackson Mounds Archaeological State Park. We decided to see both of those in the same day because they're in the same general region.

First we headed over to the Letchworth complex. It contains the highest temple mound in Florida, topping out at almost fifty feet tall. When you consider that these structures were built using only hoes and the earth transported in baskets, it must have taken a great deal of time to bring them up. We arrived to find that we had this isolated rural park all to ourselves. The entire time we were there we saw no one else. There are some information kiosks there explaining the history of the people who made the mounds and filling in details about what we know of their culture.

You can't actually climb to the top of the Letchworth temple mound, but there is a fine boardwalk and viewing platform at the base that offers a good look.

From there, we headed over to Tallahassee to find the Lake Jackson Mound Complex. Thank goodness for GPS. In no time we located the park. Again, we arrived to find it empty of visitors. There was one guy working who we assumed was the groundskeeper. And that he was, working busily to clear brush. But he was also obviously the park ranger who filled me in on the history of the Lake Jackson site. At one time there were many more mounds there, but most of them were destroyed by farmers and builders who wanted the earth to use in fields and foundations. You have to wonder what they destroyed in uprooting the work of the people who were there before them.

A few days later we would be visiting the Ocmulgee Mound Complex in Georgia which dwarfs both of these sites, but I still recommend that you see these two complexes if you are at all interested in American history and specifically Native American history and culture.

Me for scale. The tallest Native American temple mound in Florida.

Representation of the mound under construction.

The walkways leading to the temple mound at Letchworth.

The lesser temple mound at the Lake Jackson complex.

It looks like you could just walk across the field to the larger mound. However, flooding had caused a creek in the middle of the field to overflow. I had to find a narrow place to pick my way across.

Once I found a way across, I climbed the stairs to the top.
Video tour of the mounds. Carole and I do enjoy our vacations together.

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