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Saturday, May 29, 2010

Monday, May 24, 2010

An Ohio Pyramid

This is the Great Mound in Miamisburg Ohio. The largest conical mound east of the missisippi and one of the largest in the world.


Yeah those are people at the top, It's huge!



The view from the top. Some theories suggest the mound may also have been used as a signal tower. Although you really cant see when the pictures are this size a tiny bump on the horizon in one photo is the skyscrapers of Dayton in the distance. You can see miles and miles of the river valley.


.The Mound was probably over seventy feet tall when new and sits on top of a large ridge overlooking the river. The circumference is 877 feet. After climbing the 116 steps to the top the view is amazing. I can't imagine the power or esteem someone must have been held in for his people to have went to this incredible amount of work to bury him.
The mound was built by the Adena people sometime between 1000 bc and 400 ad.(1400 years, they must have been quite a people to rule for so long)The Adena people, or the mound builders as they are sometimes called, were the first to make pottery in what in Ohio. Big pots as large as eighteen inches high and twelve to fourteen inches in diameter have been found.The Adena used tools made of stone and bone but used copper for jewelry. The Adena also made art seemingly just for srts sake. They created stone tablets with absrtct designs varved all over them and made pipes in all kinds of animal and human forms.
The Adena were the first people to grow food in addition to being hunter/gatherers and grew plants like pumpkins and squash. Their principal weapon was the spear.
The only real archeological excavation of the mound was in 1869 when a vertical shaft was sunk from the top to the base, with two horizontal tunnels extending from it. One skeleton covered with barkwas found eight feet down; a second "vault" 36 feet from the top surrounded with logs was discovered but nothing was found inside. Layers of ashes and stone were found which probably mean the mound was built in stages over time.


This is a photo of Monk's Mound near Collinsville, Illinois I found online. Monk's Mound covers 16 acres; it rests on a base 1,037 feet long and 790 feet wide, with a total volume of approximately 21,690,000 cubic feet, a base and total volume greater than that of the pyramid of Khufu, Egypt's largest. Its just about the same size at the base as the pyramid at Giza. All built by carried baskets of earth! Untill the Pentagon and big skyscrapers were built it was the largest manmade structure in America.

Saturday, May 22, 2010




Was poking around in the woods this evening and jumped a doe. She ran a bit then snorted a bunch, but the wind was right and I just froze and she came sneaking back trying to find out what spooked her. After maybe ten minutes she bounded away with one last snort. A very nice walk in the woods

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Will o' Wisps and Warrior Ghosts

fortancient map

You are lost in the desolate forest
Where the stars give a pitiful light.
But the far-away glow of the Will of the Wisp
Offers hope in the menacing night.

It is lonely and cold in the forest,
And you shiver with fear in the damp,
As you follow the way of the Will of the Wisp
And the dance of it’s flickering lamp.

But know, as you trudge through the forest,
Toward that glistening torch in the gloom,
That the eerie allure of the Will of the Wisp
Summons you down to your doom.

It will lead you astray in the forest,
Over ways never traveled before.
If ever you follow the Will of the Wisp,
You’ll never be seen anymore.
By Jack Prelutsky

Probably no where can you go and find more ghosts than along the Little Miami at Fort Ancient, much less fish at such a haunted locale. All that science can really say for certain is that from the end of the last ice age till now man has lived there, Paleo-indians, Adena, Hopewell, Fort Ancient peoples, woodland cultures and finally Scot's Irish pioneers. The hill overlooking the river here is the site to visit if you are interested in native american cultures in Ohio. Two and a half miles of earthworks in places up to twenty plus feet tall, indian mounds, indian burials, villages, farming and religious sites. You name it and Fort Ancient has it all.
Down on the floodplain, where now the canoe livery sits was the site of a pioneer settlement now completely gone. This ghost town had a blacksmith shop, hotel, post office, and was a stop on the Little Miami railroad.
On the opposite bank of the river the Cross Key Tavern, built in 1802, still stands. The Cross Keys was also a stop on the stagecoach line. Local lore has the tavern haunted by a woman that stayed there while the Cross Key was operated as an inn, probably sometime around 1810. Supposedly she found her bed so comfortable that after she died she returned to haunt that bed. Legend also says the antique shop at the top of the hill has tried selling the bed but it keeps getting returned by unhappy buyers. This antique shop itself was originally a church built in the 1850's. Ive heard the abandoned cemetery beside the shop is haunted itself. Across the road from the grave yard, in Camp Kern, is the Kern Effigy, A stone pathway built by the Hopewell that supposedly resembles a giant snake.
My brother and my great uncle Albert Sandlin fished the river along here in the seventies and saw their own ghosts of sorts, a ball of light floating downriver hanging a few feet above the water. My great uncle mentioned seeing the mysterious light on a previous trip and then it reappeared on a night both he and my brother were fishing the river. My brother described it to me as a circle of soft light about the size as the bottom of a five gallon bucket floating slowly over the river.
Science says these lights are made by the gasses formed by decaying vegetation in swampy ground. Down here at Fort Ancient the steep hillsides would shelter a gas ball from the wind that might break it apart allowing it to linger on a muggy summer night.
Legend tells a different story, calling them Will o' Wisps or Jack o' Lanterns and claims they are the ghosts of unbaptised children caught between heaven or hell. Other legends say the lights are the souls of men who have sold their souls to the devil. Certainly a better place than Fort Ancient, with it's ghosts town and indian burial grounds, could not be found for a haunting.
Here the river runs in a series of long runs and holes better suited for catfish, crappies, and sauger fishing without alot of the classic smallmuth riffles. My smallmouth fishing here consists of walking five or ten minutes between fiffles and runs then fishing each one thoroughly. But with the exceptional water quality each spot usually yields some fine fishing making the effort worthwhile.
I've found that in early morning before the canoe crowd is out in full force this is a great stretch of river to fish with a flyrod. The long and smooth heads and tails of each pool are tailor made for a deer hair bug twitched on the surface. This seems to produce some very nice sized fish every year also. I tie a simple deer hair bug as big around at most as a nickel, really about half as big as the average bug you see on sale for fishing largemouth bass. Fished on a six weight rod they cast better and produce many more smallmouths than a bigger bass bug.
If you park at the ODNR parking lots alongside the bridge and walk down the bike trail for ten minutes or so you will come to a stone bridge over a small creek. The curved arch of the bridge is just big enough to walk under and looks like it should be home to a troll or two. This small creek has created a nice rock bar out in the river speeding up the current and providing a fine area to fish. I usually fish this water fast at first picking up a fish or two on an inline spinner then slowing down and going back over the water with a plastic grub or marabou jig. A jig here for me has produced white bass, sauger, bass, drum, and once a decent channel cat. The secret to finding the best water is finding areas with a firm bottom of gravel or rock instead of softer muck.
Often the very hottest days of summer, those ninety degree scorchers, can produce some fine fishing for smallmouth. Just fish the fastest water you can find that is close to deep water. Fish these riffles with a fast moving bait like a spinner or small crankbait early in the day and you will get bit. The fast water provides food and oxygen, the warm temperatures amp up the fishes metabolism and the nearby water provides midday sanctuary.
For a few miles each side of the Fort Ancient bridge the hillsides are covered in just about the finest forest left in sothwestern Ohio. Early visitors to Little Miami river valley in the late 1700's and early 1800's described the valleys as having the most magnificent forests they had ever encountered. Considering the entire country was cloaked in forest these woodlands must have been quite majestic to earn such praise. Along the river just upstream form here I found a few years ago what I'm sure was bobcat scat on the end of a log about chest high off the ground. Deer are frequently seen crossing the bike trail in early mornings and in spring the gobbles of wild turkeys ring thru the woodland.
Up atop the hillside at the Fort Ancient museum there are relics also of paleo-indians dating back 12000 years. Large clovis spearpoints that would have been used to hunt the mammoths and mastadons that roamed here after the last ice age. Some mastadon skeletons have been found in Ohio of animals that were eleven feet tall and estimated to have weighed ten thousand pounds. Imagine hunting that with a spear! Other megafauna that would have lived in the Little Miami valley in those days would have included the dire wolf, giant beavers and ground sloths, saber toothed cats, and the meanest monster of them all, the short faced bear. The short faced bear stood up to twelve feet tall and weighed up to 2500 hundred pounds.
In the earliest years of the eighteen hundreds the woodlands from here upstream to past waynesville were known for their fine black bear hunting. Although by the end of the seventeen hundreds indians still had villages along the little miami, the Hopewell and the Fort Ancient peoples were long gone. The earliest white explorers to Fort Ancient tell of finding mature trees hundreds of years old growing atop the earthworks. One theory holds that the little ice age that so devastated europe from 1300 to the mid 1800s caused the Fort Ancient people to adapt from their settled ways into the woodland culture Shawnee. Another theory was their culture was wiped out by disease sweeping up from the south caused by contact with the first Spanish exlorers to North America. To me some combination of the two seems logical.
The Fort Ancient people who lived all along the length of the Little Miami and the Shawnee shared many ways of doing things and artifacts from both cultures are very similar. The Shawnee, many archeologists believe, are the most likely descendants of the Fort Ancient people. Since most of the Scot's Irish settlers of Kentucky and Ohio ended up with traces of Cherokee and Shawnee blood in their geneology I like to think so, having the blood of these Scot's Irish hillbillys running in my veins. Maybe some tiny tiny fraction of my own heritige dates back to these amazing people.
Although called Fort Ancient, this place wasn't really a fort at all, the walls are broken by 63 large gateways that would have been impossible to defend. It is thought that instead this was the religious center for villages from the surrounding countryside, their Mecca of sorts. I rather like the idea of Fort Ancient as a place of pilgrimage and worship instead of a fort. Any theory that has one of my favorite fishing spots being holy makes perfect sense to me. These ancient peoples would have grown corn and squash here and gathered wild foods such as ramps or acorns from the surrounding forests. Pearls and shells from the Little Miami were much used in jewelry and they would have traveled the river in dugout canoes trapping and catching it's plentiful fish. Wether or not their spirits now haunt the river scaring fishermen as glowing balls of light is of course another thing entirely...









A dancer from the celebration held every year at Fort Ancient.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

fishing at ceasers creek

With the river muddy from the recent storms I've been fishing at Ceasers Creek and catching a few catfish on cut bait and saugers consistently on rocky bottoms next to bays








ceaser's creek beach


spotted sandpiper back from migration, possibly as far as southern South America







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commorants strung out in flight


sandpiper in flight


ring billed gull


black buzzard



Tuesday, May 11, 2010

the last few days outside...



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a mink peering out from the grass






a coot hiding in the cattails







Walking on water?


wood duck with a pied billed grebe in the background