3. Land Acquisitions Status At Hopewell Culture NHP
By Jarrod Burks and Jennifer Pederson
In May 1992, President George Bush signed Public Law 102-294 creating
Hopewell Culture National Historical Park (NHP) in Ross County, Ohio.
This legislation authorized the purchase of properties that would allow
the new park to expand its boundaries beyond those of the existing Mound
City Group National Monument. Until this time, the monument consisted
of the Mound City Group and portions of the Hopeton Works, which were
in danger of being destroyed by a gravel operation.
Since the 1992 legislation, a primary management objective at Hopewell
Culture NHP has been land acquisition at Hopewell Mound Group, High Bank
Works, Seip Earthworks, and Hopeton Works. The process of building the
park has been slow and blocked by many legal hurdles.
Nevertheless, there is much good news to report for the ongoing efforts
to acquire and preserve these important Hopewell sites. There are four
basic categories of land acquisition status at Hopewell Culture NHP:
(1) parcels currently owned;
(2) parcels to be acquired in less than a year;
(3) parcels to be acquired in one to three years; and
(4) parcels potentially available for acquisition or addition to the
Figure 1 shows how these categories are distributed among the five units
of Hopewell Culture NHP.
click on image to enlarge
|The current boundaries of the Mound City Group unit have been in
place since the early 1980s. The 120 acres of this unit include the
mounds, embankments, and borrow pits of Mound City, as reported by
E. G. Squier and E. H. Davis in 1848, as well as the park’s
visitor center, museum collections, and administration buildings.
A narrow, historic easement exists along the western and southern
boundaries of the Mound City Group unit. This easement
was put in place to protect the park’s boundaries from development.
1. Four categories of land acquisition status at the five units
Culture National Historical Park.
|The easement parcel along the southern edge of the
park, which contains a number of low-density Hopewell artifact clusters,
be acquired at some point in the future.
The last remaining parcel of the 292-acre Hopeton Works unit was officially
acquired in October of this past year. This purchase finally brings to
an end the over 30 year battle to save this National Register historic
site from development and gravel quarrying. While gravel is still actively
mined from quarry pits along the edge of the second terrace, the earthworks
themselves are now protected from further damage.
Hopewell Culture NHP archeologists continue to survey the bottomlands
in this bend of the river and last year documented significant archeological
deposits just west of the unit boundaries. One additional parcel north
of the unit may become available for purchase in the near future. This
parcel contains the eastern extension of a Hopewell settlement found
in the Overly Tract, as investigated in 1995 by an Ohio State University
field school in conjunction with National Park Service archeologists.
This autumn also officially marked the acquisition of the second of
four major parcels at the 300-acre Hopewell Mound Group unit. The first
parcel was purchased from the Archaeological Conservancy in 1997. Together,
these two parcels account for the vast majority of the embankments, borrow
pits, and the more than 40 mounds at this site. Of the two parcels now
in the acquisition process, the large tract that includes much of the
northern edge of the main embankment should be purchased within the next
The smaller tract that cuts across the site along its southern edge
will likely require one to three years for acquisition. An ongoing remote-sensing
project by park archeologists at this site has revealed many intact features
beneath the plow zone and will play a key role in inventorying this site’s
extant resources. A small parcel of land north of the unit may become
available as an uneconomical remnant once the primary acquisitions are
The two remaining park units, High Bank Works and Seip Earthworks, are
in the early stages of acquisition. Of the 197 acres projected for acquisition
at the High Bank Works, approximately half will probably be acquired
within the next year. The remaining portions will likely take one to
three years before they become part of the park. Recent remote-sensing
surveys at this little known earthwork site by Dr. N’omi Greber
have also proven useful in defining the location and nature of the earthworks.
Seip Earthworks, the final park unit, has the furthest to go in the
acquisition process. A third of this Hopewell earthwork complex is currently
owned and managed by the Ohio Historical Society. The remaining sections
of the earthwork will most likely be acquired within the next one to
three years. A large tract to the southeast of the unit will likely become
an uneconomical remnant upon the completion of the initial purchasing
at Seip Earthworks. Thus, after an archeological survey, this tract may
also be purchased as part of the Seip Earthworks unit.
Together, the five units of Hopewell Culture National Historical Park
will provide for the protection of some of the best-known Hopewell earthwork
complexes in the world. We anticipate that the ongoing archeological
programs for research and resource inventorying will provide much needed
information on Hopewell use of these earthwork sites. At some units,
such as Hopewell Mound Group, concentrations of habitation debris will
also provide valuable insight into Hopewell domestic life.
Unfortunately, many more Hopewell earthworks in Ross County and the
rest of the middle Ohio Valley have been or will soon be completely destroyed.
The mass wasting of the archeological record across much of the Midwest
U.S. makes these recent and upcoming acquisitions all the more critical.