Growing up in Macon, you sort of take for granted this amazing National Park in our back yard.
Ocmulgee National Monument is a memorial to the relationship of people and natural resources in this corner of North America. They preserve a continuous record of human life in the Southeast from the earliest times to the present, there is evidence here of 17,000 years of human habitation. The Mississippian culture arrived here around 900C.E. constructing mounds in their villages.
In the visitor's center - these beautiful replicas of events that took place - RIGHT HERE! In 1704, Col. James Moore, with a band of some fifty men from Charles Town, leads 1,000 warriors from the Creek towns on the Ocmulgee River to Florida. They devastate the Spanish Apalachee Mission system and drive the Spaniards back to St. Augustine. After many of the inhabitants of northern Florida are exterminated, some of the Creeks move into the area and incorporate the survivors into their own group. These people are subsequently known as the Seminole and Miccosuki.
From 900- 1150 AD, A new way of life, believed to have originated in the Mississippi River area appears on the Macon Plateau. These people, whose pottery is different from that made by the Woodland cultures in the area, construct a large ceremonial center with huge earthen temple / burial / domiciliary mounds and earthlodges, which serve as formal council chambers. Their economy is supported by agriculture, with corn, beans, squash and other crops planted in the rich river floodplain. Indigenous Woodland people in surrounding areas interact with these people, who possess early symbols and artifacts associated with the Southeastern Ceremonial Complex (Southern Cult).
The Lamar Culture, named for the Lamar Mounds and Village Unit of Ocmulgee National Monument, becomes widespread in the Southeast; chiefdoms marked by smaller, more numerous, often stockaded villages with a ceremonial center marked by one or two mounds; combination of the both Woodland and Mississippian elements
Autumn is enjoying a look into what a home would look like. She wanted me to identify and explain each tool in the house. She was most interested in how they cooked in the pit.
I was fascinate by what the Native Americans ate. Since they lived a very active lifestyle - what did they use to fuel their bodies?
Finally we exit the Visitor's Center and head down and up the hill to one of the most fascinating mounds at the park.
I asked Autumn to just sit and listen. It was completely peaceful here. She heard birds and squirrels..
She listened to the wind.
I think she got it.
Resting on the bench.. just listening...
We crossed the bridge and headed up the hill to the Earth Lodge
Autumn was a little nervous walking into the Earth Lodge..
You'll notice she is walking straight up, I had to bend down - and I am only 5 '1 1/2.
The sun shines very brightly into the lodge.
You'll notice an eagle in the earth.. and a fire pit.
We left the Earth Lodge and walked around it - and look across the great expanse. We wanted to head to the Great Temple mound.. but there is no walking straight there.. oh no... - we headed down a trail to the right.. that took us around a corner, deeper into the woods...
Once we circled the corner, we saw a big bridge, and we walked across it. I was telling her how afraid of heights I am.. and she giggled and skipped across.. lol. Below us was train tracks..
Once we exited the bridge.. we had to pass the "Trading Post" where people came to do business eons ago.. and cut across this great field.. then head down a big hill... and across..
Looking back at the bridge..
We covered it all..
Perhaps you cannot tell.. but the Great Temple Mound is VERY high. We are to the bottom of it now..
Walking across a bridge - heading toward the air of the Temple Mound.. you see the swamp area - connected to the Ocmulgee River. That river flooded in 1994, causing a natural disaster in Macon - hundreds of people were with out homes, and my family did not have water for 3 weeks..
Autumn took a moment to sit on the top of the Great Temple Mound, and just relax and reflect. You can see parts of downtown Macon behind her.
Next we decided to head down the stairs and down the big hill to the swampy area to hike the trails.. she kept begging to see an alligator. LOL
Down the hill - looking back over where we were...
We decided to walk each trail - come back to this spot.. and walk the next one.. We did it.
Looking back - you can see the Great Temple Mound through the trees.
As we circled out of the woods - we found ourselves right back at the trading post.. *sigh*
After re tracking our steps, and crossing the big bridge, and heading down the curved path, and passing the Earth Lodge we made it back!
According to my calculations - we hiked approximately 4.3 miles. EXHAUSTED.