I put off going to photograph Pargoud Landing because it is in Monroe, not far from where I live and I kept thinking I could go there any time. It wasn’t an excursion that I needed to plan (or pack a lunch) for. But in December the clouds were right and the temperature cool and the wind brisk and it was just time to visit Pargoud.
Pargoud Landing is in a residential neighborhood that is nestled up against the confluence of the Ouachita River and Bayou Desiard. I can get there by kayak from my backyard though I would have to go over or under a few bridges along the way.
One of the earliest references to the site was in 1787 which listed that there were originally three mounds but that two had been destroyed. In 1909, archaeologist C.B. Moore published “Antiquities of the Ouachita Valley” and wrote about Pargoud Landing that “the mound, evidently domiciliary, has suffered through wash of rain. It was not dug into by us.”
It was excavated in 1935 by Ford and Freeman who noted that the site included at least two mounds. A portion of the site was bulldozed in 1973 and skeletons and associated grave goods were exhumed by amateurs. Really. The site was excavated again during the summers of the mid- to late 1970s by Glen Greene from what was then Northeast Louisiana University. A collection of artifacts is on display at the ULM Museum of Natural History and if you haven’t seen it, you should go. Soon.
The tallest mound at the site was estimated to be approximately 28 feet tall. It is thought to be an early Plaquemine site built around AD 1200.
So that’s the history I can glean from the articles given to me by Dr. Diana Greenlee from Poverty Point. But every time I mention my ancient mounds project to anyone who grew up in the area around Pargoud they always tell me stories. Riding their bicycles up and over the mound. Sliding down it on pieces of cardboard. They usually express remorse now that they are adults and realize that the ground they played on was sacred.
Standing on the paved road next to the large houses while the occasional golf cart putters by, it’s hard to imagine the surroundings of this mound back when it was built or even when it was first noted in 1787. But, to me, the humble mound still makes all the fine homes seem so temporary. They will probably crumble to the ground someday while the mound waits, patiently, to see what’s going to replace them. Again.