Poverty Point State Historic Site
The time was eight centuries after Egyptian laborers dragged huge stones across the desert to build the Great Pyramids, and before the great Mayan pyramids were constructed. The place was a site in what is now northeastern Louisiana. The people were a sophisticated group who left behind one of the most important archaeological sites in North America.
The Poverty Point inhabitants set for themselves an enormous task as they built a complex array of earthen mounds and ridges overlooking the Mississippi River flood plain. This accomplishment is particularly impressive for a pre-agricultural society. The central construction consists of six rows of concentric ridges, parts of which were as high as five feet. The ridges form a semi-ellipse or C-shape, divided into sections by at least four aisles. The diameter of the outermost ridge measures nearly three-quarters of a mile. It is thought that these ridges served as foundations for dwellings although little evidence of structures has been found. However, features and midden deposits uncovered during excavations support this hypothesis.
Poverty Point is indeed a rare remnant of an exceptional culture. It has been estimated that landscape preparation and earthworks construction may have required moving as many as 53 million cubic feet of soil. Considering that a cubic foot of soil weighs 75-100 pounds, and that the laborers carried this dirt in roughly 50-pound basket loads, it is obvious that this was a great communal engineering feat.
Poverty Point's inhabitants imported stone and ore over great distances. Projectile points and other stone tools found at Poverty Point were made from raw materials which originated in the Ouachita and Ozark Mountains and in the Ohio and Tennessee River valleys. Soapstone for vessels came from the Appalachian foothills of northern Alabama and Georgia. Other materials came from distant places in the eastern United States. The extensive trade network attests to the complex and sophisticated society that built the Poverty Point earthworks.
Dated between 1700 and 1100 B.C., this site of more than 400 acres is unique among archaeological sites on this continent. In 1962, Poverty Point was designated a National Historic Landmark by the U.S. Department of the Interior. The site also became a Smithsonian Affiliate in 2010. An interpretive museum, special events, programs and guided tours, highlight activities at the park. Tram tours are given daily at 10 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 1 p.m., and 3 p.m., from March 1 through October 31.
For more information on the site, refer to Anthropological Study Series #7 -- Poverty Point: A Terminal Archaic Culture of the Lower Mississippi Valley -- prepared by the Louisiana Archaeological Survey and Antiquities Commission.
To view the video, Poverty Point Earthworks: Evolutionary Milestones of the Americas, on ArchaeologyChannel.org, click here; Windows Media Player or Real Player are needed for playback. Poverty Point Earthworks: Evolutionary Milestones of the Americas was produced by the Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism; the Office of State Parks; and Louisiana Public Broadcasting (LPB).
Poverty Point Reservoir State Park (3 miles north of Delhi/I-20 on LA 17) – A marina and beach area, along with a fully-stocked man-made lake, makes this an ideal spot for a variety of watersport activities. The site also offers 4 lodges for overnight visitors.
Black Bear Golf Course (253 Black Bear Drive, Delhi) - A “must play” on Louisiana’s Audubon Golf Trail, this course is located near Bayou Macon and offers various levels of challenge to golfers. After the 18th hole, enjoy a meal and refreshing beverage at the Waterfront Grill.
Chemin-A-Haut State Park (East of US 425, 10 miles north of Bastrop) - French for "high road," Chemin-A-Haut is a 503-acre state park situated on a high bluff overlooking scenic Bayou Bartholomew. The park offers 26 improved campsites, 14 vacation cabins, a day use area with a swimming pool, picnic area and 7 playgrounds. Two barrier-free nature trails and a conference room make this a popular area year-round.
Lake D'Arbonne State Park (5 miles west of Farmerville on LA 2) - A fisherman's paradise, this 655-acre state park is nestled in a pine forest and rolling hills along the shores of Lake D'Arbonne. The park features 18 cabins, 65 improved campsites, a visitors center, a swimming pool, 4 tennis courts, picnic tables and grills, 3 fishing piers, a boat ramp and a fish-cleaning station.
Jimmie Davis State Park at Caney Lake (Off LA 4 southwest of Chatham, on Lakeshore Drive and State Road 1209) - Situated on an outstanding bass-fishing lake, the parks offers 73 improved camping sites, picnicking, 19 cabins, a group camp with a capacity of 120, 2 boat ramps, a fishing pier, swimming beach and is an ideal spot to launch biking expeditions.
Wild Country Safari Park (8 Hobby Newton Road, Epps) - The Wild Country Safari Park facility is home to over 100 unique animals, a petting zoo, the Gift Shop, Kalahari Café and the Kudu Outdoor Event Lodge.
The Cotton Museum (Hwy. 65 north, Lake Providence) – Visitors can get a first-hand look at the day-to-day operations of a plantation where cotton was the major cash crop.
Panola Pepper Company (1414 Holland Delta Drive, Lake Providence) – Established in the mid-1980s, this company offers over 30 sauces, seasonings and condiments. Open for tours 8 a.m.-4 p.m., Monday through Friday.
Tensas National Wildlife Refuge (Off I-20 via US 65 [Tallulah Exit] or off I-20 via LA 577 [Waverly Exit]) - This refuge encompasses 57,000-acres of bottomland forest. Hunting, fishing, hiking, wildlife viewing, canoeing, interpreted trails, a boardwalk and educational programs abound. A Visitor Center contains brochures, exhibits, species lists and regulations.
Thomas Jason Lingo Community Center and Seven Oaks RV park (10284 Hwy 17 S, Oak Grove) Special events and Bluegrass music twice a year, during the first weekend in October and the first weekend in April.