Effigy Mounds National Monument

Trip Start Mar 02, 2011
Trip End Oct 14, 2011

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Where I stayed
Bel-Aire Motel

Flag of United States  , Wisconsin
Friday, September 16, 2011

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I checked out of my hotel and was heading out of town when I noticed what I thought was a used car dealer with some interesting cars in the window.  I stopped and went it and discovered it was the Dahl Auto Museum.  The museum was created by the Dahl family, which has owned a Ford dealership in La Crosse for 100 years.  The new car showroom is behind the museum and faces the street on the other side of the block.

Since the Dahl family has been involved with Fords for 100 years it's not surprising that the museum consists almost entirely of Fords.  They have nearly 30 cars on display ranging from Model T's to a 2006 Ford GT, most of which are restored to showroom condition.  It was an interesting visit and it's free.  I'm glad I stopped.

I then drove to the Effigy Mounds National Monument.  An effigy mound is a burial mound in the shape of an animal.  The effigy mounds and the other burial mounds in the park were made by Native Americans.  Effigy mound construction only took place from roughly 700 to 1300 AD.  The other burial mounds were constructed as far back to around 1500BC and as late as the 1500s and possibly into the 1600s.

There were thousands of burial mounds scattered around much of the U.S. when Europeans arrived but the effigy mounds are restricted to northern Illinois, southern Wisconsin, and eastern Iowa.  By 1900 an estimated 75% of burial mounds had been destroyed.  The national monument was created in 1949 and the Visitor Center opened in 1960.  It protects two dozen of the approximately 50 effigy mounds in eastern Iowa.

I first went to the Visitor Center to watch the movie, see the displays and talk to the rangers.  The most popular trail is a two-mile loop trail that starts at the Visitor Center.  I decided I'd check it out.  It leads by a number of burial mounds and a bear-shaped effigy mound and there is another bear-shaped mound not too far from the loop trail. 

It's a nice forest with some good views of the Mississippi River Valley but I can't say I found the effigy mounds that interesting.  They're only a couple feet high so they aren't that visible.  They mow the grass around the mounds to improve visibility but they still don't stand out that well.  One of the bears had a narrow strip of gravel placed around the margin but it's only visible from above due to the grass so you can only see a small portion of the margin at a time as you walk around it.  I found the exhibits and movie more interesting.

I then drove to Mazomanie, WI and got a room for the night.
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