The Long Road to Hopeton
Figure 77: Squier and Davis' drawing of Hopeton Earthworks. ("Ancient Monuments of the Mississippi Valley"/1848)
(click on image for larger size)
From the onset of National Park Service involvement at Mound City Group National Monument, managers and cultural experts lamented that the site under their care represented a macabre aspect of Hopewell culture, its peculiar graveyard and funerary aspects. "The City of the Dead" itself was surrounded in Ross County by other Hopewell-related earthworks containing clues that might shed more light upon this mysterious civilization, the greatest prehistoric culture of eastern North America. While a surprising number of these sites had survived centuries of Euro-American occupation, efforts to preserve them had largely been as a result of enlightened and sympathetic private landowners. As time passed and economic conditions changed, however, such private sector benevolence could not guarantee the preservation of remaining Hopewell sites in perpetuity. The public sector slowly came to this realization in the late twentieth century.
Clearly, if the National Park Service took its preservation mandate seriously, the Mound City Group could not be the sole Hopewellian site within the national park system. As serious planning efforts for Mound City Group began in the 1950s, this concept received much discussion, especially once MISSION 66 development for the Chillicothe monument became agency policy, forever renouncing notions of allowing Mound City Group to revert to state management and operation. From the late 1950s onward, the National Park Service committed itself to playing a key leadership role in understanding, educating, and preserving significant sites related to the Hopewell culture. The impetus for this preservation vision lay just across the Scioto River from Mound City Group National Monument at the Hopeton Earthworks.