I wanted to see the rural back roads of Louisiana and I sure did. The only sign of commerce or people on my way to Poverty Point was the occasional gas station and mini mart.
A few times, I needed to slow down for a cluster of houses. In Europe, they use the word, village, but here there’s no word for tiny town.
The land has been climbing. You can tell because the cemeteries have their graves underground. In New Orleans and even further north, bodies are buried above ground. The altitude here is about 100 feet. Finally Poverty Point, east of Monroe and close to the Mississippi border.
Poverty Point is an archaeological site, where prehistoric people lived between 1730 to 1350 BC. They moved soil to level the land, and then create mounds and ridges. They had no domesticated animals or wheeled carts. The archaeologists never gave a name to these prehistoric people.
Besides the museum, the site offers a tram ride or a 2.6-mile walk past several mounds. I pick up a 12-page trail booklet.
“If you don’t want to walk in the trees,” the woman behind the desk says, “you can walk on the road.” Uhh? Are people that afraid of forests?
The first mound is Sarah’s mound, named that because Sarah Wilson Guier is buried in the mound. Sarah and her husband established Poverty Point Plantation, hence the name of the site.
The trail is well signposted. I figure out that the state mowed a path through the fields since there are no trees for blazes.
They’re put in stairs up Mound A, which they think was a ceremonial site. The top is at the dizzying height of 172 ft. I feel like the Kenyans who come to the U.S. to race. The trail is so flat that I only stop to read the plaques.
So what happened to these people? Archaeologists speculate that the Mississippi River changed course and may have flooded out the community and they dispersed.
On the web, the site is shown as a National Park unit. When I got here, it was obvious that it was a Louisiana state park.
“Now that it’s become a World Heritage Site,” the state ranger said, “it will never be turned over to the Federal Government.” So I just got some extra credit.