MOULTRIE – This week the universe sent me to Kolomoki Mounds State Park in Blakely. My husband, Sam Flowers, accompanied me as he hadn’t been since a childhood field trip.
This state park is 1.5 hours, one-way, away from Colquitt County. The drive is absolutely beautiful and the entire thing is through back-country roads and neighborhoods. In fact, as we drew closer to our destination I was worried I plugged the wrong address into the GPS because we were only minutes away and were smack in the middle of a neighborhood.
Even when we were right on top of the park and had passed a tiny sign letting us know we were in fact heading in the right direction, we were still driving past houses. This time the houses were labeled as the superintendent and ranger residences from the park staff, but it was still a little odd to come into a state park by where people live.
Of course, it was later that we realized the GPS had led us to the back entrance of the state park and in fact if we would have gone to the front entrance there was a gigantic sign carefully constructed to welcome you to the state park. Oh well.
After following the arrows, we wound through the entire park and finally made it to the visitors welcome center.
If you happen to do the same thing Sam and I did and accidentally come into the State Park through the back entrance, I do recommend going to the visitor’s center first before going out exploring.
The welcome center has a plethora of trifolds with all the information needed to give a self-guided tour, including descriptions of each mound, an overview of the wildlife to look out for and several map options.
There is also a full list of their amenities and rates; such as mini-golf, family camping in RV and pioneer camping formats, summer camp options for groups as large as 135, picnic shelters of varying sizes, an amphitheater for performances or weddings, and several boat rentals, including, paddle board, canoes, kayaks and jon boats.
For anyone who enjoys geocaching you can also pick up a paper from the visitors’ center that gives questions to answer while exploring the park. Once you have all the correct answers, you’ll have the combination to the geocaching box, which is kept in the visitor’s center, and then you’ll be able to exchange an item inside with something small of yours.
One other unique amenity this state park offers that I would highly recommend to those who haven’t seen it is the museum attached to the visitors’ center, which is $5 per adult, four dollars for seniors and 3.5 for kids. Children ages 5 and under are free.
In addition to a 13-minute video detailing the history of the Swift Creek and Weeden Island Native Americans who inhabited the land during the Middle Woodland Period of 200–850 C.E. the museum also includes a room filled with artifacts and, the cream of the crop, an excavated mound you can walk through via boardwalks.
Mound E, the mound the visitor’s center was built around, is the oldest of the archeological sites when excavations slowly began in the 1890s. Radiocarbon dating done in 1956 placed the mound’s construction to be around 170 B.C.E.
Throughout its long excavation process, four burial sites were unearthed on Mound E along with 54 pottery goods to be used in the afterlife.
In my opinion, there are two other mounds that are must-see during a visit to Kolomoki Mounds Historic State Park: Mound A and Mound G.
Mound G is in between Mound E and Mound A, which is the largest.
The date of the construction of Mound G is unknown as it’s never been excavated, but the reason this mound is worth stopping at is because it houses eight graves from the Mercier family.
The only official owners of the Kolomoki lands were the Merciers, who purchased it in 1803. Their family used the land to farm peanuts for 133 years until 1936.
The land then sat unused for two years until local citizens, who recognized the historic significance of the site, rallied together to purchase the roughly 1,200 acres and donated it to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources in 1938.
It was converted into a state park that same year.
I personally found Mound G extremely fascinating and could have stayed there longer, though I do love to explore old graveyards and cemeteries, but Sam could only stare at old, cracked stones for so long. We moved on to the main event.
Standing at 56 feet tall and having a base the size of a football field, Mound A is by far the largest of all seven and is hypothesized by archeologists to be the Temple Mound, where religious ceremonies would take place.
Stairs have been placed so visitors can climb to the top and stand in the exact spot where leaders and religious officials from the Swift Creek and Weeden Island tribes stood thousands of years ago to speak to their people, who would gather around the base of the mound to listen.
In the video from the museum, it explained one of the reasons this particular mound was constructed so high was because the Native Americanswanted those chosen to climb the mount to be in the world of the birds when addressing the people.
That was another very interesting concept to mull over.
In today’s society 56 feet is nothing. A skyscraper is an average of 330-490 feet. An airplane easily travels 31,000-38,000 feet in the sky during a route. I could continue, but you understand the idea.
Now, imagine all those things we are used to now are thousands away from even being thought of. Instead, it’s the year 650 B.C. during the peak of the Kolomoki and 56 feet high was the closest to the Heavens a person could get.
When you think about that while staring down from the top of Mound A it provides a different, humbling perspective.
Outside of the 1.5 mile White Oaks Trail featuring several mounds, including Mound A, there are two lakes — Lake Kolomoki and Lake Yohola — and two other walking trails – The 1.25 mile Trillium Trail and the Spruce Pine Trail at 2.5 miles.
This state park easily offers a full day of walking in the footsteps of the past as well as relaxing and playing outdoors.
Best of all? Because Sam and I have a state park pass, which saved us $5, and packed a picnic lunch, the whole day only cost us the $10 admission fee to the museum and a half a tank of gas.
This nugget of history is 100% something I plan on taking my extended family to next time they visit South Georgia, and I recommend it to anyone who is curious about the past.