I never seem to remember this park until I have occasion to take the I440 bypass from I30 to I40.
Then, I see the exit again, and mentally kick myself for never having made this little side trip on my journey. It's really so close to home.
So I went yesterday.
This was a spiritual experience for me.
Archaeological digs at this site date the construction of it from before 700 CE to about 1050 CE, when inexplicably, the Plum Bayou people left and never came back. In later years, Quapaw Indians used the site for a period of time, and then they too abandoned it.
Tilling and farming of the rich fertile soil by white farmers destroyed most of the original mounds.
But a few have been preserved.
Photos cannot capture the grandeur of these mounds. Standing a few hundred yard away from them was breathtakingly awesome for me.
Left to right, Mounds C, A, and B (C behind the tree):
Archaeological evidence showed that this area was used year round to house the spiritual, and perhaps tribal, leaders and their families, with no more than a few dozen individuals living there on a year round basis.
This was a spiritual,cultural and ceremonial center for the Indians named the Plum Bayou People by the archaeologists. At a minimum, during solstice and equinox ceremonies, hundreds of people gathered at the site.
Mound A is the tallest at 49 feet. It backs up to Plum Bayou, which used to be a bend in the Arkansas River. I think it's possible this platform mound had the temple on top of it.
Mound B is also a platform mound, and is 39 feet high.
Mound C is not a platform mound, but has a rounded top. Other round top mounds in the southeast United States were often used as burial mounds. The digs in this mound showed it to be the only burial mound still surviving at the site.
Digs at Mound S showed it to be a mound where feasts were held.
Plum Bayou - accessed up close and personal by the boardwalk
The bald cypress trees
And their fruit, which was about the size of small grapes. I had no idea these trees had fruit that large, and it probably accounted for the number of birds who were not real pleased with my appearance in their Eden.
The back of Mound A, as seen from the boardwalk deck on Plum Bayou. Can you imagine pulling your canoe up to the shore when you arrived for the solstice celebration, and seeing your temple - or a majestic dwelling of your spiritual leader - rising up in front of you?
Dugout canoe on the boardwalk deck
I kept hearing splashes as I walked along the boardwalk. It was the turtles, one of the food sources for those Indians of so long ago.
Something that struck me as so interesting is that the distance from one mound to another for the ones surrounding the plazas was exactly 47.5 meters. No one knows what significance that had, but I think it possibly could have been related to the geometry needed to locate and situate Mound H.
That's the viewing mound, just barely elevated...mere inches.
It's where you can see the alignment of the sunsets with Mounds A and B during solstices and equinoxes. Viewing from Mound H is open to the public.
And you better bet I'll do everything I can to be there for the winter solstice.
The journey is good.
Sometimes we can have the same view as the ancestors.