Exploring Indian Mounds at Bronson State Forest

Exploring Indian Mounds at Bronson State Forest

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Indian Mound

I spent a few months focusing my explorations near the St. Johns River area. Not only are their numerous wilderness areas to explore along the river but there is a lot of fascinating history as well. In fact many layers of history and some of the earliest history is that of the Native American Indians that lived and hunted along these areas over 500 years ago. The history can be quite complex from what I am learning but as far as I know the Timucua and Mayaca Indians settled in these places. They would build large shell mounds over time and villages along the river.

These early Floridians ate countless tons of such shellfish as oysters, snails, crabs, clams, and mussels.  They piled the debris in middens.  These are trash heaps that contain shells, bones, broken pottery, etc.  Some of mounds are massive, and there were lots of them. Middens used to blanket parts of Florida’s East Coast, from Cape Canaveral northward.  During the 1800s, in fact, Americans couldn’t believe their eyes.  They couldn’t comprehend that human activity had created so many mounds. Unfortunately these mounds are not as large as they once were and many are gone all together. Although some can still be seen and that is where this adventure leads me…

I began this exploration at Charles H. Bronson State forest and was able to hike out to the St. Johns River area where several mounds could be seen. I really enjoyed finding them and the views there on the river floodplain are spectacular. It was dry and cooler so these areas weren’t as challenging to access as they normally can be.  As I stood there on the mounds I could imagine how the natives must’ve enjoyed it there. You can’t help but feel the history here. On the mounds I could see some remnants from the past like old pottery fragments and shells.

I have been enjoying learning about the history doing the explorations and tracking down the sites. I still have more to see, the adventure really just has begun.

My Videos

Old Indian Mound at Bronson State Forest

Exploring Indian Mounds at Bronson State Forest (Part 1)

Exploring Indian Mounds at Bronson State Forest (Part 2)

Exploring Indian Mounds at Bronson State Forest (Part 3)

Resources

St. Johns River Historical Society

St. Johns River Original Inhabitants

Charles H. Bronson State Forest

21st Century Expeditionist

Out in The Boonies

Florida Hikes and Other Outdoor Information

*Do not remove or disturb artifacts it is prohibited and illegal in this forest, thank you.

Mound History on The St. Johns River (Indian Field Grove)

Mound History on The St. Johns River (Indian Field Grove)

I have been exploring some Native American Indian Mounds along the St. Johns River, most of them have been Shell Midden Mounds. The journey has been great and I continue to be amazed at some of the history that I am learning. The Timucuan Indians inhabited the areas going back at least 500 years, but natives long before that so it can be a very complex history to learn about. The shell middens were built up by discarded shells, bones, pottery and other debris left behind over long periods of time. It is truly fascinating to still see evidence from the past at these places and walk in the footsteps of these ancient people.  After them these were mounds were continued to be used by land owners, because of the higher ground they would build homesteads on them.

One mound in particular that I explored near the St. Johns River had an old orchard and ruins from some structures on it including remains from an old boat dock. I learned more about the history of the place and Samuel J. Norton use to own the land here in the early 1900’s. An old newspaper article published in 1921 describes the place. Here is part of it, I will post a photo of the original article below.

“ Mr. Norton’s country place is rare among the estates in the South for combining magnificent orange, fig and banana culture with exhilarating sports afforded by a well stocked game preserve, and the numerous lakes and sloughs of the St. John River which lie close at hand and which offer a Paradise for the hunter and fisher. Its desirability either for pleasure or profit or both is unquestioned, and the beauty of its orange palms and live groves, its sparking waters and wonderful Indian mound, present a picture in the mind of the beholder that will never be forgotten.”

Indian Field

1921 Article

Map Cropped

1920 Survey Map Illustrating The Grove and Dock on The Mound

My Videos

Exploring at Seminole Ranch Conservation Area

Old Dock Pilings at Seminole Ranch Conservation Area

Old Indian Mound at Seminole Ranch Conservation Area

 

Resources

St. Johns River Mound History

Out in The Boonies – Boonieman

Seminole Ranch Conservation Area

Exploring Mounds at Little Big Econ State Forest

Exploring Mounds at Little Big Econ State Forest

I have been exploring some of the mounds near the St. Johns River at Little Big Econ State Forest. The Timuca Indians lived and hunted here and evidence can still be seen from their activities. They would use these mounds to discard shells, pottery and bones. Over long periods of time the mounds would build up. They also used the mounds for look out points and for higher ground if needed along the river and floodplains. The Timucua were a Native American people who lived in Northeast and North Central Florida and southeast Georgia.

Over the centuries the mounds have eroded and in many cases have been dug up but traces of them can still be seen. A lot of the shells in the mounds were used to help build roads throughout Florida. As you walk through this forest or many other areas if you look down in the dirt chances are you may see some shells.

I can’t help but imagine what life was like out here back then, you get a real sense of the history on the mounds. I enjoy that part of exploring very much…

My Videos

Old Indian Mound at Little Big Econ State Forest

Exploring Mounds at Little Big Econ State Forest

Resources

Little Big Econ State Forest

St. Johns River Historical Society