BLTC Press Titles

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Leaves of Grass

Walt Whitman

The Secret Doctrine, Volume II Anthropogenesis

H. P. Blavatsky

Letters on the Aesthetical Education of Man

Friedrich Schiller

The Diplomatic Background of the War

Charles Seymour

Fort Ancient

by Warren King Moorehead


On a slightly rolling plateau in Warren county, Ohio, overlooking the beautiful valley of the Little Miami river, is situated Fort Ancient, the greatest of all prehistoric earth-works in the Mississippi basin.

The fortification on one side follows the edge of the plateau, while at the eastern extremity it lies fully a quarter of a mile from the river valley. The side farthest away from the river (or toward the east) is 19 feet higher than the western portion. This will be readily noticed, if the reader will turn to page 20, where a map of the fortification is given, and note two cross-sections, one being taken across the southern portion of Fort Ancient, the other across the northern extension.

Just to the west of the structure, and extending north and south for the same distance as the length of the fortification, there is a broad and fertile valley. Above and below the extent of the inclosure the valley narrows, but immediately opposite it widens to fully half a mile. The length of the valley north and south is not quite one mile.

The soil of the valley is exceedingly fertile, and excellent crops are raised yearly by the resident farmers.

The Pittsburg, Cincinnati and St. Louis railroad passes through the valley on the east side, following the curves of the river. The Lebanon and Chillicothe turnpike, coming from the west, descends the hill, crosses the river, and ascends the eastern hill, passing through a portion of the northern part of Fort Ancient.

The station on the railroad is named in honor of the earth-work, "Fort Ancient." The post-office has the same name. The village consists of one small hotel, two warehouses, a country store, and six dwellings. In winter, it is the most lonesome spot in the state.

Just above the little valley described, the hills on each side of the river approach within 300 feet of each other, and leave barely room for the river and railroad to pass between. Below the fortification, the hills come nearer together, being about 290 feet apart at the base. The valley thus shut in would be a capital place for a large aboriginal village, and, as we shall see later on, for such purpose it was frequently used.

The river makes great bends and is very tortuous, in order to pass around the high hills; hence, the railroad following these curves is very crooked. It is upon the high hill at the south that the fort wall approaches nearest the river, the nearest point being about 200 yards distant.

The height of the plateau above low-water stage is 269 feet. The height of station 1 in the survey above low-water stage is 291 feet. (The wall there is 22 feet in altitude; the plateau is 19 feet higher than the original level just within the eastern wall.)

The height of the embankment at station 1 above the Atlantic ocean level is 941 feet. Although the distance around the inclosure (following the center of the embankment) is 18,712.2 feet, the structure is so irregular and crooked that a straight line drawn from station 389, in the northern portion of the fortification, to station 187, in the southern part of the earth-work, shows a distance of but 4,993 feet, or less than one mile.

Leaving the railroad station to ascend to the fortification, we climb up a long, steep hill, over a very winding road. The view of the valley from this hill is very beautiful and commanding. The road is the Lebanon and Chillicothe turnpike, and in ascending it makes a very great bend to the north. It never curved toward the south, although some writers upon Fort Ancient in their maps of the structure have made the pike as turning around the hill in this, the wrong direction.

When the summit of the hill is reached, we see towering above a mass of foliage the first or western wall of the inclosure. The pike strikes this wall at one of the highest points.

Note.—In this book there are a number of terms and names connected with certain portions of the structure that will be used constantly. In order to become thoroughly familiar with these, turn to the map on page 20, and note the following places and names:

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