Three thousand years ago, Poverty Point was the center of the most advanced civilization north of the Rio Grande. Prehistoric people built a town of massive earthen mounds here; archaeologists estimate it took some five-million labor hours to haul the dirt in basket by basket.

 

Poverty Point
Louisiana Convention and Visitors Bureau
Poverty Point Naitonal Monument, as seen from above.

The central part consists of six rows of concentric arcs, forming an enormous semicircle. Each arc of raised earth was originally 10 to 15 feet high. It is believed that these ridges served as foundations for dwellings. Connected to the outermost arc is Poverty Point Mound, a huge mound shaped like a bird with outstretched wings. It measures approximately 700 by 800 feet at its base and rises 70 feet into the air.

The Poverty Point inhabitants established an extensive trade network here; then, between 1400 and 1350 b.c., they abandoned the site. The visitor center has many artifacts on display, including beads and small stone tools unique to this culture. The center's Lookout Point, which has a scale model of the entire facility at its base, offers an excellent perspective of the enormity of the site's mounds. The monument also offers self-guided interpretive trails, special guided tours, and the opportunity to observe archaeologists at work.

Poverty Point was designated a national monument in 1988, but it is owned and operated by the Office of State Parks, State of Louisiana.

Poverty Point National Monument Information

Address: Epps, LA 71237

Telephone: 318/926-5492 or 888/926-5492
Hours of Operation: Open daily 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. except Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Day
Admission: $2; free for visitors 12 and younger or 62 and older

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To learn more about national monuments, memorials, and historic sites, and other travel destinations in North America, visit:

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Eric Peterson is a Denver-based author who has contributed to numerous guidebooks about the Western United States.