It might sounds like the name of some factory or industrial site, but rather it is actually the site of the highest concentration of small earthworks so far discovered in Ohio.This site,  known as the Steel Earthworks, is unusual as one circular earthwork remains visible in spite of decades of plowing. It measures 300 feet in diameter with an interior ditch and earthen wall.

It is with great excitement that we share in announcing that the Heartland Earthworks Conservancy (HEC) is the winner of a grant of $10,000 from 2016 Ohio History Fund part of  the Ohio History Connection. This grant will be used for a high tech remote sensing survey at the Steel Earthworks site.

Initially, the Conservancy had focused its efforts on acquiring only the visible circle with a small buffer area totaling eight acres, but then the landowner passed away.  Only recently inspired by the Conservancy’s acquisition of the nearby Junction Group Earthworks, a complex of at least eight earthen enclosures on 20 acres of farmland, the daughter decided to sell the entire 81-acre farm to the Conservancy.

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Previous magnetometry map of the Steel Earthworks was overlaid on an aerial photograph of the farm, the boundaries of which are defined by the yellow lines. The large circle near the bottom of the photograph is the only feature that can be seen from the ground. Courtesy Jarrod Burks.

“The Ohio History Fund helps us to preserve and share Ohio stories by supporting local projects in communities throughout the state,” said Burt Logan, executive director and CEO for the Ohio History Connection. “The work of local history organizations is helping to strengthen our heritage to ensure Ohio’s stories are told for years to come.”

The new magnetometer survey will cover a significant portion of the site, about 35 acres at the Steel Earthworks, Ross County. Magnetometers detect magnetic fields in the earth’s surface and are used in archaeology to non-invasively look for archaeological evidence. The survey will reveal the remainder of the site’s archaeological resources and enable the Conservancy to prepare detailed maps.  This information will allow any future excavations to be carefully targeted, preserving a record of life in the area thousands of years ago. The survey will enable HEC and its preservation partners including The Archaeological Conservancy to better plan for the conservation of important archaeological features at this Ohio Hopewell ceremonial earthwork site.

steel earthworks

We can’t wait to see what HEC and Dr. Jarrod Burks finds during this new survey!

In additional exciting news the Steel Earthworks site may join soon join the Junction Group Earthworks as a public preservation park. Significant work was done at the Junction Group to resurvey the site in the Winter of 2014-2015, with exciting results. A drone fly over at the Junction Earthworks Site was done in the fall of 2015, showing the beautiful results in the specially moved grasses to show the below ground earthworks.

The new park is set to open fully to the public on July 23th, 2016. Here is another drone fly over of the soon-to-be park from February. Short video showing off the walking path that is going in at the Junction Group earthwork area located in Chillicothe Ohio. Flowing in the background is Paint creek.

It is hoped that if enough funds are raised with our Partner Arc of the Appalachia, Steel Earthworks will join this very special natural and archaeological preservation park in 2017. Lots of work is still needed to make this happen, read some of what is going on for this new earthworks acquisition!

You can help with Your gift of $25, $50, $100 or more for the Preservation Fund, choose designation for Steel Earthworks, will make such a difference in our efforts to preserve what will be the Conservancy’s sixth largest Hopewell preserve in south-central Ohio.

Junction Earthworks and Steel Earthworks show along with hopeful Railroad walking path connection corridor.


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