My kids, Abbie and Eric, have been on spring break vacation this whole week and today, I took some time off with them to explore a site I’ve never been to in my 50+ years of living in St. Louis….Cahokia Mounds. We got up early this morning, packed up the Accord and headed east on a neat adventure. Wow, what a fun place to visit! Some brief history, around AD 700, the first settlements at Cahokia were built by Late Woodland Indians. From AD 800-1000, the Mississippian culture began and thrived until 1200. The city spralled over 6 square miles with a population around 20,000 people making it the largest community north of Mexico. As the name suggests, Cahokia Mounds is full of earthen mounds with the largest called Monks Mound. This prehistoric earthen construction contains an estimated 22 million cubic feet of earth. The base covers more than 14 acres and it rises to a height of 100 feet. You can definitely feel the height after the climb! And what a view…..At the top of the summit lived the the principle chief back in the day. Like the pyramids, this huge mound of earth was literally carried one dirt bag at a time by members of the tribe….incredible! If you’ve not yet visited this site, do yourself a favor and put it on your must see list. There’s an intepretive center chock full of artifacts and a cool 15 minute video about the historic site….then you can browse the property and the mounds which also includes a reconstruction of woodhenge…a series of spaced huge logs standing upright in the ground in a circle that was used to forecast the changing of the seasons. Pretty high tech stuff for 1200!
If you’re up early this Sunday, at 6:45am, you can celebrate the spring equinox sunrise observation at Woodhenge. Interpreters recreate that experience and explain the history and significance of the ancient sun calendar. It’s free….