High above the Mississippi, earthen mounds in the shape of birds, bears, and simple cones mark the once-flourishing Woodland Culture of the Upper Mississippi River Valley. From 500 B.C. to A.D. 1300, Eastern Woodland Indians, who were hunters and gatherers, lived in this area. They collected wild rice, nuts, fruits, berries, and freshwater mussels, and their prey included deer, bear, and bison. Like other Indians of their age, these prehistoric people also built distinctive burial mounds. While many of the mounds have been lost, northeastern Iowa's Effigy Mounds National Monument, proclaimed in 1949, preserves 206 known prehistoric mounds.
©National Park Service
At Effigy Mounds National Monument, visit more than 200 prehistoric burial mounds.
The mounds do contain burials, as well as artifacts, including copper beads, chipped blades, and stone and shell ornaments, indicating that the Eastern Woodland culture was part of an extensive trade network.
In 1881, however, Theodore H. Lewis and Alfred J. Hill began an ambitious survey of the mound groups of the Mississippi River Valley. Their surveys produced excellent maps of the mounds, several of which, such as the Marching Bear Group, are now part of the monument.
Effigy Mounds National Monument Information
Address: 151 Highway 76, Harpers Ferry, IA
Hours of Operation:
- Weekdays 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
- Weekends 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
- June to Labor Day, 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
- Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day
- $5 per vehicle or $3 per person
- 15 and younger, free
Learn about these other national monuments:
Find out more about travel destinations in North America:
- National Monuments: Learn more about America's national monuments.
- National Memorials: Discover national memorials in the U.S.
- National Historic Sites: Read about American national historic sites.
- Iowa State Guide: Learn about Mobil Travel Guide-rated hotels and restaurants in Iowa as well as other recreational activities.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Eric Peterson is a Denver-based freelance writer who has contributed to numerous guidebooks about the Western United States.