There's Mounds of work to be done

Trails cleared, buildings repaired at Angel Mounds Historic Site

By MARK WILSON Courier & Press staff writer
464-7417 or May 2, 2006
February 12, 2006

Spurred by the destruction of the Nov. 6 tornado, a facelift is in store for Angel Mounds State Historic Site this year.

In the same way that the powerful tornado carried much of the debris from the Eastbrook Mobile Home Park into the woods on the site, the winds also carried the outbuildings and parts of the house that once served as headquarters for pioneering archaeologist Glenn A. Black across Pollack Avenue and onto neighboring properties.

"Most of the garage was in the yard of the lady across the street," said Mike Linderman, property manager.

Linderman is employed by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, which protects, manages and interprets the Angel Mounds State Historic Site. The site is located at 8215 Pollack Ave. in southeastern Vanderburgh County near Newburgh.

Although the house, where Linderman lives with his wife and daughter, was made livable within weeks of the tornado, it is hardly recognizable. Stripped of its white picket fence, outbuildings, shade trees and other landscaping, the house now looks remarkably similar to the way it looked in 1937 before the site was purchased by the Indiana Historical Society. Black directed excavations at the site, and in 1946 the historical society gave the property to the state. Excavation rights were given to Indiana University in 1965.

Until that time, Black lived and worked at the site, staying in the house and keeping record of his work in a small office/library nearby.

Plans are being made to restore the home's exterior and rebuild the outbuildings and landscaping to reflect the way the home looked in the 1940s during Black's time at Angel Mounds. The work will be done with a $150,000 grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The replication of Black's office will become an exhibit space that will give visitors a sense of the effort and scholarship that has gone into the archaeological excavation and study at Angel Mounds. "It will give the people a sense of how much important stuff went in such a small space," Linderman said.

It will also provide a space for lectures and exhibits pertaining to archaeology at the site.

However, the buildings aren't the only part of Angel Mounds still in need of cleanup and restoration. The tornado twisted, uprooted and tangled most of the trees in the Angel Mounds woods between the mobile home park and the interpretive center, as well as around a mound located across Pollack Avenue from the entrance to the site. Nearly two miles of public trails in the woods were blocked.

Funding to help restore the site will come from a May 16 auction of timber from 110 acres of the damaged woodlands, Linderman said. The timber includes many large cherry trees that were uprooted but otherwise remain intact.

Although a long-range plan for recovery of the damaged areas has not been developed, Linderman said it will likely include interpretive signs that will chart the natural healing process of the woods for visitors. Also, 21 acres of land in the site's north field and around the interpretive center will be planted with wildflowers as part of a program to develop wildlife habitat.

In the meantime, activities at the site will continue this year:

# Staffan Peterson, an Indiana University doctoral student, will return this year to lead another field school and conduct excavations of the site from May 9 through June 15 for the university and its Glenn A. Black Laboratory of Archaeology. During this time, guided tours of the grounds and the excavation will be available for $2 per person with a reservation for groups of 15 or more people on week days.

# The annual Music at the Mounds concert series will kick off from 1 to 8 p.m. May 13, with a Spring Music Festival, featuring an eclectic mix of folk, country, Rock 'n' Roll and bluegrass music. The cost will be $20 per person or $15 in advance. The proceeds will go to the Angel Mounds tornado recovery efforts.

# Returning for a second year will be Voices of the East, a living Native American village with re-enactors in period dress, wigwams and native activities. The interactive experience will engage visitors to take part in eastern Native American culture. The event will be from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. May 20 and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. May 21. The cost will be $5 per vehicle. Proceeds will go to support educational programming at Angel Mounds.