Oak Ridge is a small village just across the Morehouse Parish line from here. It is completely surrounded by farmland that is currently planted in corn with a few acres of peanuts (!) hidden off the highway. It is a manicured little town with just enough oddballs thrown in that it doesn’t get too boring. It is always in the running for the Cleanest City contest and on a recent Saturday morning visit, I could see why.
There is also an ancient mound site there. Mack Barham (Oak Ridge native, friend and fellow photographer) took me on an excursion down muddy turnrows and through a poison ivy nursery to reach the site.
After scrambling through the thick brush, crawling over the downed trees and tripping over the invisible vines, we came upon the base of the mound. It was like entering a sanctuary. The place really feels haunted. The treetops form a canopy and little sunlight reaches the ground. It is a dark cave with foliage for the sides and the roof. And in the center, the mound rises and rises to the top.
We pulled ourselves up the muddy slope to the summit. It was tough to climb (and even tougher to descend) and without using the tree trunks and vines as handholds I probably wouldn’t have made it. Now it’s just a matter of waiting for the poison ivy rash to appear.
Mack said that as a child he would pack a picnic lunch and spend the day playing on the mound with friends. It had fewer trees then and he said you could see the horizon in all directions. Even back then it was surrounded by crops, usually cotton, back when it was King. Now I can only get a tiny glimpse of the corn far below.
Mack pondered on the number of baskets of dirt it would have taken to build the mound. I wondered about being worthy to enter such a sacred place. And I wanted to close my eyes and imagine the ancient people living there. But I was afraid of snakes so I didn’t.
I believe the mound has been mapped but no excavations have been done there. The owner prefers to leave it as is, as it has been for hundreds of years, allowing Nature to grow and recede as she pleases. Big thanks to Mack for not only taking me there but also for going first through the brush. And to Mr. Jordan for giving us permission to visit and photograph the site.