The Caney Mound is located just across Bayou Bartholomew from the Venable Mound. It lies right next to a narrow 2-lane road in the middle of Morehouse Parish farmland. It is just a whisper of a mound, a bit over 5 feet tall and approximately 130 by 165 feet at the base. It rises slowly from the fallow rows around it and tapers away just as slowly. Without knowing it was there, you would probably never notice it.
But … it is thought to be one of the oldest mounds in Louisiana, possibly built as far back as 3000 BC. The first Egyptian pyramids were still a couple hundred years away and yet people in North America were working right here building an earthen structure – one that you and I can stand on a rural Louisiana road and still see.
I photographed it from the shoulder, obeying the No Trespassing marker and not wading across the small ditch. Because the mound is so slight, it first appears to be unremarkable. Boring. A few quick snaps and move on. But, like so many other simple things, its beauty takes a while to surface. It is so old, so understated and, really, so noble. You know that idea that someone mentions in passing that you first ignore only to remember days later? And then can’t get out of your head? That’s the Caney Mound.
I hadn’t been there long when two guys in a pickup truck pulled up because, well, someone in a pickup nearly always pulls up. They told me they lived a few hundred yards away and had grown up roaming around the site, finding buckets of “arrowheads”, especially after plowing. They had long since sold them all to a guy in Winnsboro and didn’t trespass now that the sign was up.
They also told me they made their living hunting the woods and fishing in the nearby bayou. They were even kind enough to give me directions to the remains of their recent monster catfish which was strung up on a sign along a dirt road. No way I could pass up an opportunity like that.
Later, as I was driving home, I was thinking about how much I love these mounds and how I study them, photograph them, feel a part of them. But it struck me that no matter how close I feel to them I will never be as close as the two guys in the pickup. They are the true descendants of the moundbuilders, hunting and fishing and living off what the land offers up to them, land that is surely part of the original Caney Mound site.