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“Butterfly Garden”, Mounds State Park, Indiana
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Mounds State Park was formed by the state of Indiana in 1930 but there’s so much more to this little park so rich in history. The transformation of this small plot of land began nearly 2200 years ago and continues today.
Earliest records of the mounds were not written on paper but on land. This area was considered sacred by the Adena people, early mound building Native Americans who lived in the central US. It continued to be viewed as sacred with later groups such as the Hopewell and Fort Ancient Peoples. As Native American culture transformed so did the landscape.
The GIS rendition to the left depicts line of sight from within the Great Mound which aligned with three other mounds. The Great Mound was the centerpiece of the complex which included over ten mounds. Archaeological evidence shows the presence of prehistoric Native Americans from about 200bce until about 700ce then the land laid dormant for a thousand years.
In the early 1800s the property was purchased by Frederick Bronnenberg who recognized the mounds were special and didn’t allow them to be plowed under. In the late 1890s Bronnenbergs grandson, Samuel, sold the land to the Union Traction Company with the stipulation that the mounds would be preserved. Unfortunately this was not the case. At first the area was preserved but soon it was turned into Mounds Amusement Park.
This little spot of land transformed from a sacred ritual site to a farm then an amusement park and now it’s last transformation into a state park where the mounds continue to be preserved. The land and it’s use have transformed over time but the sacred persceptions remain.
The following photos show what the park looked like as an amusement park and a state park.
A kiddie train circled the Great mound.
The Fiddleback Mound was the site for the Leap the Dips roller coaster and a restaurant, The Pavilion.
Union Traction Company Interurban (train) station ~ Remnants of the station today.
The boat dock and it’s remnant today.
The dam and Mounds Lake and what’s left today.
The transformation continues today. There are plans to create a reservoir near the site. I hope the mounds and the surrounding park will be preserved but it’s not a guarantee.
Do you know the history of the local, state or national park near you? You might be surprised at what you find.
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NOTE: black and white photos courtesy of Mounds State Park
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