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Ocmulgee National Monument

Visitor Center Archaeological Museum

Surely countless coaches originating from points throughout the Midwest and Ohio Valley make the trip south annually on I-75, en route to Florida’s renowned theme parks and cruise ports. Although some may make stops along the way, I would guess that few groups are aware of three interesting and free National Park Service units that are just a few miles off of the highway in Georgia. Ocmulgee National Monument lies just three miles east of I-75 Exit 165.

Ocmulgee shelters some of America’s most impressive Indian mounds, which were home to people of the early Mississippian culture from roughly 900 to 1100. A film and significant archaeological museum in the visitor center describe the human habitation of the Southeast from 10,000 BCE to the early 1700s, with special emphasis on the Mississippian village site.

A walking tour leads guests to the Earthlodge, dating from around 1000. The interior reconstruction approximates the original appearance of this, the oldest native ceremonial chamber in the country. Nearby are the Cornfield Mound, prehistoric trenches, the Greater and Lesser Temple Mounds, which were apparently topped originally by wooden structures likely used for religious ceremonials, and the Funeral Mound, where more than 100 burials have been uncovered.

Staircases lead to the tops of both Temple Mounds, from which visitors experience panoramic views of the village site and the surrounding countryside. Near the Temple Mounds is also the location of an English trading post that was established about 1690 to trade with the numerous Creeks who had settled nearby.

Restored interior of Ocmulgee’s Earth Lodge, America’s oldest ceremonial chamber

Great Temple Mound

Walnut Creek Wetlands