Williamson Indian Mound

Williamson Indian Mound, the namesake of the park, is one of the most unique parts of the Indian Mound Reserve. Visitors can hike to the top and appreciate the sky from a higher point of view, as well as enjoy the diverse wildflowers that grow on it in the spring and summertime.

The Mound stands about 4o ft high and 150 ft in circumference.1

Historical Overview

The Williamson Indian Mound is believed to have been built between 500 B.C. and 100 A.D.2 by the Adena Indians,3 a culture of people that populated Southwestern Ohio during this time period. Believe it or not, there are actually remains of 27 different mounds just in Greene County!4 The Mound was named after David S. Williamson, who donated the land in 1929 to the Ohio State Historical Society.

There has been much debate over the functionality of this mound, as it has never been excavated. Was it built as a burial site or simply a lookout? Its height and strategic placement seem to indicate that it was a lookout, though now the tree line has grown too high to see very far. Nevertheless, it stands as a memorial of the rich history of Greene County5 – a history which began long before the first Europeans pioneered this land.

 

REFERENCES
  1. Kenny. (2018, January 4). Winter Hike at Indian Mound Reserve – 4.63 Miles – Greene County, OH [web log]. Retrieved 2021, from https://www.meetup.com/movingwater/events/245432821.
  2. Platt, D. (2016, April 10). Indian Mound Reserve [web log]. Retrieved 2021, from https://trekohio.com/2016/04/10/indian-mound-reserve/.
  3. Hedeen, S. (n.d.). First on the Scene. In The Little Miami – Wild & Scenic River Ecology & History (pp. 13–17). essay.
  4. Broadstone, M. A. (1993). The Mound Builders of Greene County. In History of Greene County, Ohio: Its People, Industries and Institutions (Vol. 1, pp. 72–95). essay, Windmill Publications, Inc.
  5. Dills, R. S. (2006). The Indians. In History of Greene County: Together with historic notes on the northwest, and the state of Ohio gleaned from early authors, old maps and manuscripts, private and official correspondence, and all other authentic sources (pp. 81–94). essay, Filmed by University Microfilms International.
Drone footage taken by Swift Drone Photography

Content developed by Audrey Illig.

Wastewater Ponds

Historical Overview

In the late 1800’s, the Hagar Strawboard Mill was built in Cedarville.1 The process of producing strawboard included the pressing of straw, which produced a byproduct of contaminated water (water that had a very high pH). For years, the Mill simply dumped this water back into Massie Creek and continued on with their production.

 

 

Paper Mill Trough
Retrieved from the Harold Strobridge Collection3
Cliffs Trough
Retrieved from the Harold Strobridge Collection2

Over time, the Mill began to receive complaints about their wastewater. Not only was it killing fish and other wildlife that relied on Massie Creek as a water source, but it also smelled! So, the Mill came up with a solution. They decided to redirect their wastewater into ponds for the contaminated water to accumulate in. This would provide a space for the water to sit while the contaminants precipitated out over time. It is not clear whether any further steps were taken to purify the water. Clearly, this was not a very thorough solution to the problem, and evidence of pollution has been found all the way down to the Ohio River because of the Hagar Strawboard Plant.

 

 

Remains of the Wastewater Ponds

There are three different wastewater ponds at the Indian Mound Reserve, though they are not easy to spot from the trails. Today, they look more like flat, barren land. The ponds surround the bridge closest to the Williamson Indian Mound, as shown on the map. When walking along the Gorge Trail from this bridge towards the Rim Trail, you may notice how straight and level the path is. That’s because you are walking on a dike: a wall built along one of the wastewater ponds to keep the water in.

There is also an old valve built into the dike that you may notice while walking over it. This valve was opened to release water from the wastewater pond back into Massie Creek once the Mill workers saw it fit to reintroduce back into the river.

You may also notice some remains lying underneath the Large Overhang. These concrete blocks were used to support the flume, which carried water to and from other pipes and aqueducts all the way from the Hagar Strawboard Mill down to the wastewater ponds.

 

REFERENCES
  1. Dills, R. S. (2006). Cedarville Township. In History of Greene County: Together with historic notes on the northwest, and the state of Ohio gleaned from early authors, old maps and manuscripts, private and official correspondence, and all other authentic sources (pp. 536–574). essay, Filmed by University Microfilms International.
  2. Strobridge, H. (n.d.). Cliffs Trough. photograph, Cedarville.
  3. Strobridge, H. (n.d.). Paper Mill Trough. photograph, Cedarville.

Content developed by Audrey Illig.

Pollock Works

What is Pollock Works?

Pollock Works is a significant geomorphologic feature at the Indian Mound Reserve. This 12-acre plateau1 is considered to be an island and is encircled by the Pollock Works Loop trail. You’ve likely noticed that water does not currently surround this area; however, Massie Creek used to run through a channel around the raised island, making it a natural enclosure (you’re probably starting to realize where all these trail names come from). This channel has since been abandoned, and Massie Creek has selected its course around the north side of Pollock Works.

 

Historical Overview

The abandoned channel, which is traced through the Pollock Works Loop and Old Channel Loop trails, is a beautiful area of the park. As you walk along these trails, you’ll see exposed bedrock, lush vegetation, and maybe even some wildlife! This area has a rich history as well.

It is believed that the Hopewell Indian tribe played a role in the formation of this earthen enclosure as well.2 These people were active in the area between 100 B.C. and 500 A.D.3 Similarly to the Williamson Indian Mound, Pollock Works was built up by an indigenous people – but in contrast to the Williamson Indian Mound, Pollock Works was also a partially natural structure. It is not clear whether the Hopewell Indians built this mound as site for ritual services or as a lookout, or potentially a combination of the two.4 There is evidence that animals were kept here, as it provided a natural enclosure.

Archaeology

Several excavations have been conducted at Pollock Works since 1981, many of which have been led by Dr. Robert V. Riordan from Wright State University. Archaeological studies have revealed that the construction of Pollock works appears to have taken place in five building stages over two centuries. There was also evidence of major fires across the plateau, possibly due to warfare. These fires could be the reason for the ongoing construction. It is clear that generations of Hopewell Indians were committed to the conservation of Pollock Works.5

 

REFERENCES
  1. Pwax. (2010, September 16). Pollock Works [web log]. Retrieved 2021, from https://rockpiles.blogspot.com/2010/09/riordan-pollock-works.html.
  2. Platt, D. (2016, April 10). Indian Mound Reserve [web log]. Retrieved 2021, from https://trekohio.com/2016/04/10/indian-mound-reserve/.
  3. Kenny. (2018, January 4). Winter Hike at Indian Mound Reserve – 4.63 Miles – Greene County, OH [web log]. Retrieved 2021, from https://www.meetup.com/movingwater/events/245432821.
  4. Pollock Works. Ohio History Connection. (n.d.). Retrieved 2021, from https://ohiohistorycentral.org/index.php?title=Pollock_Works&mobileaction=toggle_view_desktop.
  5. Hancock, J. E., & Long, C. J. (2019). Lebanon to Pollock. In Guide to the hopewell ceremonial earthworks: Eight ancient American Indian monuments being prepared for UNESCO World Heritage (pp. 22–25). essay, World Heritage Ohio in partnership with Ohio Humanities.

Content developed by Audrey Illig.

History of Cedar Cliff Falls

Cedar Cliff Falls was constructed in 1887 as a stone dam for the Harbison Flour Mill,1 which sat just behind it on the south side of Massie Creek. The Falls replaced an old dam that had been destroyed in a flood.

The Falls were built with a slight curve upstream, as many dams are, to absorb the water pressure behind it. While it was being constructed, the water flowing from upstream was continually pumped using a cofferdam.

 

 

Fast Facts

The Falls are beautiful in the winter as well!

  • Approximately 30 ft wide2
  • Approximately 40 ft high3 (usually appears to be much less depending on water level)
  • Depth of water behind falls is about 25 ft
  • Stone wall is 2 – 2.5 ft thick
  • Stone wall downstream face is vertical; upstream face is sloped at a 2:1 ratio
  • Construction cost about $115,000.00 – which would be over $3 million today!

 

 

REFERENCES
  1. Leffel, J. (1978, September 19). Telephone Memorandum. Springfield, OH.
  2. Woolpert, R. L. (1977, April 1). Engineering Services. Xenia, OH.
  3. Hedeen, S. (n.d.). Water, Stone, and Ice. In The Little Miami – Wild & Scenic River Ecology & History (pp. 6–6). essay.

Content developed by Audrey Illig.

Historic Log House

The Historic Log House is located next to the eastern parking lot of the Indian Mound Reserve. Though it is not open for walkthroughs, it is a great glimpse into the life of early Southeastern Ohio pioneers.

Little is definitively known about the history of the Log House, but it is believed to have been built around the year of 1814.1 It it was originally built from in Clark County and was found in a dilapidated state. In the early 19th century, the House was deconstructed and rebuilt at its current site in Cedarville, Ohio.2 Its walls are made from walnut, which is characteristic of the residential architecture of its era.

REFERENCES
  1. Platt, D. (2016, April 10). Indian Mound Reserve [web log]. Retrieved 2021, from https://trekohio.com/2016/04/10/indian-mound-reserve/.
  2. Kenny. (2018, January 4). Winter Hike at Indian Mound Reserve – 4.63 Miles – Greene County, OH [web log]. Retrieved 2021, from https://www.meetup.com/movingwater/events/245432821.

Content developed by Audrey Illig.

Geology of the Overhang

Overhangs at the Indian Mound Reserve

There are several examples of overhangs at the Indian Mound Reserve, but this location, called the Large Overhang, is by far the best to observe this natural process.

REFERENCES
  1. Illig, A., & Rice, T. (2020). Geologic History of the Overhang at the Indian Mound Reserve. personal.

Content developed by Audrey Illig.

Environmental Features

Main Bridge Site

The Indian Mound Reserve is booming with life! Each season brings out a different array of flora and fauna. Scroll to learn more about the lively activity going on at the park.

 

Vegetation

The Indian Mound Reserve is rich in plant life! Visit any time during the spring, summer, or fall to experience trees and wildflowers galore.

TREES

Trees can be most easily recognized by their leaves, and the best time of year to observe them is during the fall when all the leaves are on the ground! If you’re an aspiring arborist, visit the Indian Mound Reserve from October – November to get a good look at its diverse range of tree species, including Swamp White Oak, Black Maple, Honey Locust, Chinkapin Oak, American Sycamore, and Common Hackberry.

WILDFLOWERS

Wildflowers begin to make their debut around April and May, and can stick around all the way through mid-autumn!
Though small, many of them like to grow in clusters which makes them easy to spot from the trails. Look for New England Aster, Calico Aster, Wild Carrot, Hairy White Oldfield Aster, Common Blue Wood Aster, and Low Smartweed.

AMONG THE LEAVES

Leaves aren’t the only thing to see during autumn. Among the leaves, you might find some fun fruit from the fruit-bearing trees! Visit the trails around late September – October and you might see some berries from an Amur Honeysuckle tree, flat legumes from a Honey Locust tree, or walnuts from an Eastern Black Walnut tree.

WHAT CAN YOU FIND?

You don’t have to spend much time at the Indian Mound Reserve to realize just how diverse the plant life can be. This page only scratches the surface! Which means there is much more to be explored.

 

Wildlife

While it’s easy to see that the Indian Mound Reserve is rich in vegetation, the variety of wildlife might not be as obvious at first glance. But take a closer look – there are many creatures to be found! A few of the most common animals in this area are:

  • Amphibians – American Bullfrog, American Toad, Eastern Red-backed Salamander
  • Reptiles – Northern Watersnake, Painted Turtle, Common Garter Snake, Common Box Turtle, Eastern Spiny Softshell Turtle, Dekay’s Brownsnake
  • Mammals – Easter Gray Squirrel, White-tailed Deer, Eastern Chipmunk
  • Fish – Common Carp, Largemouth Bass, Rainbow Darter
WHAT CAN YOU FIND?

You don’t have to spend much time at the Indian Mound Reserve to realize just how diverse the wildlife can be. The creatures presented on this page are just a snippet of all the life there is to observe here! In other words, there is much more to be explored.

 

Soils

Soil is a solid matrix primarily made up of minerals and organic material. Its where the geosphere, biosphere, atmosphere, and hydrosphere mix and mingle! Let’s start with the geosphere. Bedrock is the foundation underneath all of the vegetation and soil we see on the earth’s surface. As the top of the bedrock weathers over time, it deposits minerals into the soil resting just above it. These minerals can sit above the parent bedrock for a long time, or they can be transported by the movement of water deep in the ground – which is where the hydrosphere comes in. On top of the soil is where we find the biosphere – plants and animals – which contribute to the organic component of soil through the decomposition of organisms, the waste of organisms, or even the presence of organisms themselves. If you pick up a handful of soil, you may notice that there is actually quite a bit of empty space in and throughout soil. This space allows for the movement of air and water, where the atmosphere plays its part in aerating the soil.
Seek by iNaturalist is a great resource to learn more about both plant and animal life. It’s a free app that allows you to identify plant and animal species simply by using your phone camera! Download the app for your phone here.
REFERENCES
  1. Seek by inaturalist · inaturalist. iNaturalist. (n.d.). Retrieved September 2021, from https://www.inaturalist.org/pages/seek_app.

Content developed by Audrey Illig.

Massie Creek Site

The beautiful body of water running through the park is Massie Creek, a small branch off of the Little Miami River. This river has played a shaping role in the economy, geology, and ecology of this area. Scroll to learn more about its features.

 

Riffles, Runs, & Pools

Riffles are the parts of a river or stream where the water runs the fastest and the water level is the shallowest. The water often looks white as it tumbles over rocks at the bottom of the river.

Runs are also fast-moving sections of a river, but the water level is deeper and so the movement of water is not quite as perceptible as the whitewater of a riffle.

Pools are sections of a river or stream that are slow-moving to stagnant. It can be very difficult to perceive water movement in these areas.

Can you spot at least one riffle, run, and pool as you hike along Massie Creek?

 

Point Bars & Cut Banks

Have you ever thought about how streams of water tend to take a certain shape? To see what I’m talking about, pour some water down a sloped surface, such as a driveway. Notice how the water tends to meander in an S-shape rather than just straight down the plane. This natural event is described by the stream’s sinuosity.

Once a stream starts to meander, it’s curves become more and more pronounced. As water barrels down a stream and hits one of these curves, it erodes or ‘cuts’ into the rock or earthen material on the outside of the curve. The small sediments carried by the stream contribute to this action as well. This forms a cut bank. Meanwhile, there is much less force hitting the inside of the curve. Additionally, the small sediments that are carried by the water are not being driven downstream but rather are being dropped, which causes a buildup of deposited material over time. This forms a point bar.

Point bars and cut banks are most easily observed in environments that allow streams to meander freely, such as prairies and plains. These areas tend to have soft soil that streams can move through. However, in mountainous areas or gorges like the one we see at the Indian Mound Reserve, streams are a little more restrained. Because their courses are surrounded by rock, they cannot meander as freely as they may want to. Nonetheless, Massie Creek has still managed to form these features subtly along its path.

Can you spot at least one point bar or cut bank as you hike along Massie Creek?

 

Mass Wasting

Mass wasting is a geomorphic process in which rock, soil, or any material of the like is pulled downslope by the force of gravity. It can be triggered by an earthquake, rainfall, volcanic eruption, or simply the collapse of supporting materials under physical stress over time.

TYPES OF MASS WASTING

Mass wasting is a broad term that can be categorized into several different types.

Falls occur when rocks and other earth materials fall through the air due to the removal of their supporting material. This occurs at the Indian Mound Reserve as Massie Creek erodes away at the bedrock on either side of the gorge, creating overhangs that eventually fail.

Topples occur when a slope causes an entire body of bedrock to be tilted downslope. Eventually, the pull of gravity will cause the bedrock to “topple over” in segments, similar to dominoes falling on top of one another.

Slides occur when the force of gravity pulls a portion of soil or rock “slides” down a slope as a whole unit. This process can often happen very slowly – too slow to even perceive with your eyes. An indicator that this could be happening is “slump.”

Lateral Spreads are very subtle as well, as they often occur on very gentle slopes. These occur when the force of gravity causes a portion of soil or rock to extend laterally down a slight slope, which in turn causes rock fragments to fracture.

Flows are exactly what they sound like. A flow is a rapid movement of earthen material down a slope, resulting in a landslide. They can take the form of snow, ice, soil, rock, mud, or silt.

 

REFERENCES
  1. Frazao, A. (2021, October 21). Stream habitats: Riffles, pools and runs. The Healthy Headwaters Lab. Retrieved August 2021, from https://www.healthyheadwaterslab.ca/hhl-news/riffle-pool-run.
  2. YouTube. (2014). Why Do Rivers Curve? YouTube. Retrieved September 2021, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8a3r-cG8Wic
  3. U.S. Department of the Interior. (2019, September 11). Mass wasting. National Parks Service. Retrieved September

Content developed by Audrey Illig.

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