Effigy Mounds
Historic Resource Study
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Additional Research Needs

Some details of the historical development of Effigy Mounds National Monument and the surrounding area have yet to be clarified. A number of the questions will be difficult to answer, and care should therefore be taken to present an unbiased accounting during interpretive efforts. Other questions represent gaps in current research that may be addressed through additional documentary efforts.

Prehistoric Artifacts on Display at Visitor Center.
Courtesy of National Park Service

Homesteading and Agricultural History

One area of concern relates to the homesteading period and the agricultural practices of early settlers in northeastern Iowa. A systematic review of land ownership records, including deeds, tax records, General Land Office plats, survey field notes, and land patent records, should be conducted for the entire monument property. This research will provide vital information regarding pre-monument property boundaries, land use, and the location of nineteenth and twentieth century buildings and structures.

Initial research suggests that the use of the natural environment during the pioneer period is not well recorded in historic documents. Furthermore, some resources in the monument are identified by multiple names and at various locations. While there is some data available on the location of early farms, as well as the types of crops grown, information on early settlers' use of the natural landscape would provide a more complete picture. Some of the questions include the following: How did early settlers select their sites and choose which crops to plant? What was the impact on existing vegetation? Did they supplement their diet with native plants? Did they harvest fish and other aquatic life from the Mississippi or other local rivers? How did settlers utilize local forests? In addition to understanding their interactions with the natural environment, more information should be obtained on how early settlers were connected to a larger, regional economy. How was the Mississippi used to transport goods and people? Was there an informal trade network among area farmers and Indians? What towns or villages in the region served as marketplaces for early settlers? If such information were obtained, it could be incorporated into interpretive materials.

The Town of Nazekaw

Another area of interest is the town of Nazekaw, or Nezekaw. In 1856, following a proposal to launch a major railroad starting at the Yellow River and continuing to Minnesota and Nebraska, land buyers laid out the town of Nazekaw at the mouth of the Yellow River. The proposed railroad failed to materialize, and historical records are mixed as to whether the town of Nazekaw ever existed. Multiple sources claim that between 1858-1862, a post office, stockyard, and a steam gristmill were built at the site. Others, however, argue that this "mythical" town existed only on paper. Very little primary data exists relating to this settlement, making it both difficult to determine whether such a town existed and challenging to provide accurate interpretation.

Steamboat Landings

The historical record offers little information on early steamboat landings located in or near the present-day monument. Steamboats served as an early form of transportation for goods and people up and down the Mississippi River. There were supposedly several steamboat landings in the monument or its vicinity including York's Landing, Worth's Landing, Red House Landing, and Johnsons Port. There is limited information on York's Landing, but very little on the other sites. It would be useful to determine, if possible, the exact location of these sites, how and when they operated, some of the buildings that once might have existed at these sites, and the sites' impact on the natural environment. If more information could be identified, interpretive materials could address these steamboat landings.

National Register Nomination Form Addendum

As part of this project, the existing National Register of Historic Places nomination form for Effigy Mounds National Monument, prepared in 1976, has been amended and updated (Appendix A). However, the current revisions were prepared prior to completion of the 2004 Cultural Landscape Inventory and List of Classified Structures and do not incorporate the results of this work or the results of systematic survey within the Heritage Addition. As a result, the current revision may best be viewed as a draft amendment to the original nomination. A final amended nomination should be prepared following completion of the CLI and the revised LCS.

Prehistoric Artifacts on Display at Visitor Center.
Courtesy of National Park Service

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Last Updated: 08-Oct-2003