Getting the flavor of…
Iowa’s monument to mound builders
“Iowa has a reputation for being flat and monotonous,” said Steve Stephens in The Columbus Dispatch. “I have only traveled the edges, however, which are anything but.” Most recently, I visited the state’s northeastern corner to explore Effigy Mounds National Monument, a woodsy tract where steep rocky bluffs overlook the Mississippi River. About 1,000 years ago, Native Americans created 10,000 low earthen mounds throughout the area, some shaped like bears, turtles, and birds. Today, fewer than 1,000 remain, including 206 protected by the park, with the largest, Great Bear Mound, measuring 137 feet long. “No one knows the purpose of the mounds, whether ceremonial, religious, or artistic.” Because they’re only a few feet tall, seeing them is “a bit underwhelming.” But cliff-edge overlooks like Fire Point offer tremendous views and a chance to reflect on the mound makers, and how much this place meant to them.