Head Out On the Highway, Looking For Adventure
Not far from Wapello on Route 99 north of Burlington there is a small National Historic landmark. Pull in and you'll see two mounds in the distance. What makes these mounds noteworthy and a landmark status is they are the only remnants left of what was once a great thriving Native America community. We aren't talking the 1800's either. For these Indians we have to go way back to 200 BC. Yeah, that's a long time ago. Over 2000 years. This was a great spot because you had the Mississippi to the east and right next door was the Iowa River. The delta this area provided the ancients gave them an endless food source as well as the materials to construct homes.
The mounds here are named Toolesboro because of a town that was here in the 1800's, founded by William Toole. He uncovered one of the mounds and discovered bodies that turned to dust once the air hit them.. The actual Indian group that made these mounds were the Hopewell Indians and these mounds were all over the up and down the Mississippi.
The Hopewell Indians (named from a region in Ohio) were corn growers, maize, beans and squash as well. But they were primarily hunters and their villages were mostly along rivers. They were makers of pottery and their metalwork was the finest in the Pre-Colombian era. After about 400 AD/CE the culture declined and became less sedentary and more nomadic.
All up along the river systems in middle America were these mounds of their dead. Farming, looting, and excavating all but made these mounds a rarity.
This is a depiction of the inner mounds. Burial chambers with artifacts to help the deceased navigate the after-life.
And when you are done looking at the mounds, wind you way to Wapello and find the Sandbar. It is an excellent place to have a cold one and I am planning a ride there this summer with anyone who will go with me. Route 99 is a great hidden road that has a few nice surprises along the way.