Sunday, May 31, 2009

Expedition: Town Creek Indian Mound

Sara and I went to visit the Town Creek Indian Mound this weekend; it is near Mt. Gilead, NC, and the Uwharrie National Forest.

The weather was nice; mild and clear, after a week of humidity and rain; I had been wondering if the entire state would turn to fungus, it was so damp and sticky.

On the way to the site we rescued a young box turtle:

We actually arrived an hour early, and so went on a ride around the area, passing through towns named Biscoe, Troy, Candor, Pekin and Mt. Gilead. All of them are located in the vicinity of the Uwharrie National Forest and the Pee Dee River. Looks like prime hunting and fishing country, and we saw numerous boats at a public boat launch area at Lake Tillery. The town of Candor became the butt of a running joke on my part, as I wondered if the inhabitants were noted for forthrightness and brutal honesty. I would say things like:

In all candor, that's the ugliest man I've ever seen in my life.

In all candor, that doesn't look like a nice place to eat.

In all candor, they look like the type to tie you to a tree and make you squeal like a pig.

In all candor, it's effing hot out here.

In all candor, I need to pee.

And so on.

Finally we completed our circle and arrived back at the indian mound. It's a NC State Historic Site, with a welcome center/gift shop and restrooms. We watched a film on the history of the mound (you can read more at the Wikipedia link, if you like). Finally we walked out to the site itself; none of it original, save some of the actual mound. The stockade and buildings are all reproductions.

Here's the complex as seen from the entrance trail:

Closer, we came to the entrance to the stockade; it was made intentionally narrow to prevent more than one person from entering at a time, a security precaution intended to deter attacks.

Inside the compound was bare grass, save for three buildings, made in the style of the Mississippian People:

In an active village, of course, the grass would have been worn down to bare dirt through constant use, there would have been more buildings, and open fires/middens/latrines would have all been present.

The mound itself was about half the height of the surrounding Loblolly Pine trees, a reflection of the lack of earth-moving gear more sophisticated than a straw basket and flint hoes.

The hut on top of the mound was the bailiwick of the tribal shaman; a sacred fire burned there throughout the year, and representations of important totem animals/clans are painted on the walls:


A creek runs behind the site, and presumably feeds into the nearby Little River and thence into the Pee Dee system:

We took a walk along the Nature Trail that circles the site, then returned to the visitors center to use the toilets before departing.

One thing I've been noticing in these journeys around rural North Carolina is the number of Baptist Churches you come across; on this journey, we saw these:

Freedom Holiness Baptist Church
Porter Baptist Church
East Macedonia Baptist Church
Calvary Baptist Church
Freedom Tabernacle Baptist Church
Mt. Moriah Missionary Baptist Church
Solid Rock Baptist Church
Alley Grove Missionary Baptist Church
First Baptist Church
Covington Missionary Baptist Church
Pleasant Grove Baptist Church
Holly Mountain Baptist Church
Blackwood Chapel Baptist Church
Stoney Fork Baptist Church
Anderson Grove Baptist Church
Liberty Hill Primitive Baptist Church
Red Cross Baptist Church

We also saw a bluegrass concert advertised, as well as the Big Lick ATV Drag Races. Yeeeeeeee-haw!

Next week: Back to the Beach!

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