Having gotten fully depressed at Andersonville National Historic Site, we moved north to Macon, Georgia to visit Ocmulgee National Monument. Ocmulgee means bubbling water.
Ocmulgee is the site of ten Indian mounds. That’s what you can see but the area has evidence of people living here for 10,000 years. The earthlodge that was part of the Mississippian way of life (Mississippian Indians, that is) has been reconstructed but still has the original floor dating from a thousand years ago. It has been recreated so visitors can see the floor and seats around the perimeter. You can go in on your own or a ranger will give you a tour. Amazing!
The site has over six miles of trail which takes you to other mounds including the Funeral Mound. The trails also lead to a boardwalk and the banks of the Ocmulgee River. On the way, you pass swamp areas which attracts birds and otters, though we saw neither today.
What is also amazing is how few people we saw. The site is in the city of Macon with over 155,000 people. Where was everyone on a warm Sunday? Why weren’t they walking the trails or exploring the mounds?
The visitor center is new and beautiful. Many of the exhibits on the archeology and the prehistoric people made me feel like I had learned this stuff in school but didn’t remember it. So here goes:
Paleo-Indians Pre-9000 BCE
Archaic 9000 to 1000 BCE
Early and late Mississippians 900 to 1350
Then the Creek Indians who were eventually removed to Oklahoma.
But along with all this archeology and history, the visitor center threw in a food pyramid, comparing the foods we eat with the foods of the Mississippians. They point out that the Mississippians exercised for one to ten hours a day. So go walk a trail. They’re short and flat.
We got there at 9 am when the park opened and we had the visitor center and the two rangers to ourselves. We toured the Earthlodge with a ranger, just the two of us. After exploring the trails, we came back with more questions. Although we did see a few people on the trail, the park was empty.
I left some money in the collection box, the equivalent of paying an entrance fee. We spent almost six hours in the park. When we left and said good bye to the ranger, he gave us each a Junior Ranger badge. He felt we had earned it. Amazing!