Daily Archives: June 1, 2011


Arriving in a space/place can be an interesting part of the journey.  At times arrivals are unexpected pleasures such as a surprise visit from a friend while at other times, arriving is as simple as showing up where you’d planned all along.

On the journey today, arriving meant something a bit different.  It meant embracing opportunity to arrive at a place somewhat unexpected:

Newark Earthworks

The prehistorica construction at Newark, OH

While driving along Interstate-70 this morning, it occurred to me that I had neglected to look up the location of the Hopewell mounds in Ohio.  It then occurred to me that perhaps we would pass near some of the constructions and be able to take a look.  When my friend used his GPS effectively to locate some nearby sites, we hopped off the big highway and in a short drive located some fascinating sites.

The Great Circle at Newark

Me, walking near the eastern 'gate' of the great circle

This largest grouping of geometric earthen shapes, apparently in the world, was constructed about 2000 years ago.  While its exact purpose is a mystery, there are some guesses as to the purpose of these structures.  Their size is impressive and cannot be understated.  I’m walking in the Great Circle, an area containing at least 30 acres and some 1200 feet in diameter.  The original circle included a low, earthen wall that surrounded the entire circle as well and connected the spot to other areas in the complex.  While what has been preserved is remarkable, much was destroyed by years of farming and the construction of a canal line, a portion of which is now Ohio state route 79.

The oddest portion of the complex is a slightly smaller circle attached to an octagon.  At our first stop, images indicated to us that we were in for a bit of a surprise regarding where the octagon was located.

First, I should point out, that all of these earth works are largely in neighborhoods which is remarkable in and of itself.  The octagon though, has a different story – if you’ve clicked on the previous link, you’ll understand that this has been saved, but in an odd manner.

The octagon and smaller circle were refurbished by the Ohio state militia in the 1890s and the space was used as an encampment.  After 1910, the octagon was leased by a country club and a golf course runs inside the circle and octagon.

As Tom and I said to each other – ‘only in America.’  On the one hand, the idea of a century of golf played in what appears to be a sacred space seems problematic to say the least.  On the other hand, the space has been preserved which, given the farming and other construction over the years, is remarkable.

The trip concluded in Louisville today without too many major events – there was some road construction, singing the WKRP theme song, a sighting of the professional sports team homes in Cincinnati, an excellent Chick-Fil-A sandwich, or two, and in conclusion, enjoyment of what should be Kentucky’s state drink.

All in all, I’d say we’ve arrived.


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