|Sign reminding park visitors to be respectful and to not indulge in looting.|
|Looking downriver toward Marquette, Iowa.|
It really had me wondering what the area between the Iowa and Wisconsin sides was like before the Corps of Engineers began messing with the river. Thanks to the string of locks and dams that have channelized the Mississippi, in the area near Prairie du Chien there isn't much land between the water and the high ground. That wouldn't have been true when the mound building cultures were at their peak. How much archeological evidence was lost when the dams went in, how many village sites wound up under water? We'll never know.
|The trail has multiple switchbacks similar to this one. It takes awhile to get to the top.|
The Wisconsin side is lower than the Iowa side, so a person does wonder just what motivated the mound builders to locate their burial mounds where they did: at the top of the bluffs. There had to have been a religious reason; it couldn't have just been that they didn't want to waste the river bottoms, the level ground good for growing corn and squash, on cemetery space. For sure they put some thought into it because the hike up from the river level isn't fast or easy. The bluffs are steep; in places it's a sheer drop-off.
|The S.O. ignoring a sign reminding people they're at danger of falling a long, long way if they're not careful.|
|People can't read. There were social trails made by people who had decided they didn't have the patience for switchbacks either on the way up or, more likely, the way down.|
It is, of course, really hard to photograph mounds when you're standing next to them. You can tell it's a mound when you're right there staring at it, but you don't get much of a sense of what it's like when you look at a ground-level photo later.
|The mound to the left of the trail is roughly circular in shape. It's one of a line of circular mounds.|
|It really does look like a bear when you're standing next to it.|
|One of the overlooks along the trail.|
In any case, I thought the exhibits were nicely done considering it's not a very large space. I suffered my usual plexiglass envy -- every time I visit a museum that enjoys a better budget or has benefited from professional design services I find myself fantasizing about ways to keep visitors from being able to touch the stuff in the Baraga County Historical Museum -- as well as admiring the curation. I'm always blown away by the way museum professionals can take a minimal amount of material, set it up in a pretty small display area, and make it interesting.
I can see making a return trip to Effigy Mounds if we're ever in the area. We only walked one trail so did not see everything -- and even if we had, it's a nice peaceful place to pause for a few hours or even a full day. If you do the longest loop, you end up walking about 7 miles. The trails are wide and well maintained. If it wasn't for the hill climb, I'd describe them as easy, almost accessible, but the steepness of the grade might push them into the moderate category.