Rockwell Mound

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After leaving Nauvoo, Illinois we began the LONG 13 hour trek back to Pittsburgh. Along the way we kept our eyes open for fun, “off the beaten track” sites of roadside America that we might want to see on our trip back home. As we drove through Havana, Illinois I caught sight of a sign for Rockwell Mound.

In the K12 curriculum I have used for each of my kids in elementary school they have studied the Mound Builders, but we have never had the opportunity to actually visit and see in person this ancient mounds built by early Native Americans.

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We made a small detour to check out this cool piece of history.

Here is a little info about this unexpected detour:

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The mound with its rounded hill was a place given to speeches and was even the site of a Lincoln Douglas debate, although not on the same day. Stephen Douglas spoke in Rockwell Park on August 13, 1858; then Abraham Lincoln spoke there the following day.

While the hill lent itself to speeches the history of this piece of land goes back much further. According to the facts at the site, Rockwell Mound is the second largest Indian mound in the Midwest.

Michael Wiant, Director of the Dickson Mounds said this is an important mound that was built by their best estimate between 1800-2000 years ago. While he thinks this may be a burial mound, he added, “There was very little excavation done, we can only say it was a mound built by humans.”.

He added that while most of the artifacts have been found in farmer’s fields there is little that can still be seen of this culture and the mounds offers that visual image.

The mound is called Rockwell Mound because N.J. Rockwell donated the ground to the community in 1849 the site was not confirmed as an Indian mound until 1986 when test probes showed artifacts within that dated the mound to around 150 AD. The Middle Woodland People were part of the Mound Builders.
An article by Charles Hinrichs states, “An estimated 1,760,000 baskets full of earth went into the construction of this 2-acre, 14′-high mound.”

There wasn’t much to see on site, only two plaques that shared the history of the site, but it was still a cool, unexpected stop along our way home.

It is always neat to see in person the sites we have studied through the pictures of our history books!

After a 13 hour drive we arrived home at 4:15 am. We promptly hugged the dogs and crawled into our beds for the most restful sleep we’ve had in 7 weeks.

We will fill you in on the final moments of our trip in the next blog.

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