Ancient American Indian mound to be replicated

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 1, 2010

JONESVILLE — Like a very determined ghost, the lost civilization of Troyville is slowly rising from the ground in Jonesville.

A replica of it is, at any rate.

Troyville was the ancient American Indian civilization that existed where the Town of Jonesville now stands.

It was home to the second largest Indian mound in North America, which stood 80-feet tall and was known as the Great Mound. The mound was destroyed and used to build the approaches for the Black River bridge in the 1930s.

The bridge was demolished last year, and plans to build an on-site replica of the mound out of the surviving dirt are coming to fruition, albeit slowly.

“The National Guard is coming in and they have actually started working on moving the mound and the dirt, they are moving it up there but it is still in the beginning phases,” said Jackie Rouse, a member of the Catahoula Parish Museum and Historical Society.

The National Guard was placed on the project after the Catahoula group spearheading the effort filled out an application for the Guard to build the mound, said Bill Atkins, who is heading up the mound reconstruction committee.

“It is a training exercise for them,” he said. “Anything moving dirt, they want all types of dirt and projects they can train their personnel on.”

The work was delayed somewhat by a rainy, soggy winter, and the dirt that was excavated from the former bridge site had to be stored at an old sawmill a half-mile from the replica construction site, but things are now under way.

“They do it one weekend a month, whenever they have their regular Guard drill,” Rouse said.

The mound will be reconstructed in three stages.

The first stage will be 15-feet tall, rising at a 42-degree angle, and the second stage will have terraces between three- and four-feet tall before rising a total of seven feet at a 42-degree angle, Atkins said.

“The final stage will be a conical mound to rise another 15 feet,” he said.

Following the bridge demolition, archeologists sifted through the dirt that had belonged to the ancient mound and found stakes, old cane matting, cane domes that Atkins described as being as large as school buses and some pottery and shells.

They also discovered where a palisade fence had been erected around the original mound site, Atkins said.

Plans to build a museum dedicated to the history of the mound and the American Indian culture that built it are in the early stages, and Rouse said approximately $2,000 had been raised for it when the historical society sold raffle tickets for a chance to push the button to start the demolition of the old bridge last year.

The society will also have a membership drive later this year, Atkins said.

For more history about the mound reconstruction project, visit www.catahoulahistory.com.