Marksville State Historic Site
Martin Luther King Drive, Marksville, LA 71351|
318-253-8954 or 888-253-8954 toll free
Directions: The site is located in the town of Marksville, southeast of Alexandria. From LA 1, turn onto Preston St. (LA 452) and head northeast, then right onto Martin Luther King Drive. GPS Coordinates: N 31 7.5127, W 92 2.9894.
Hours of Operation: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday; closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day. Guided tours are offered daily.
Entrance Fees: $4 per person; free for seniors (62 and over) and for children age 12 and under. Groups are asked to call in advance.
The 42-acre Marksville State Historic Site is located on a bluff overlooking the Old River, adjacent to the town of Marksville. Professional archaeologists consider this prehistoric Native American ceremonial center to be of unique national significance.
The Marksville culture, a southeastern variant of the Hopewell culture centered in Ohio and Illinois, was characterized by elaborate mortuary ceremonialism, the construction of conical burial mounds, complex trade networks, decorative pottery, and the importation of certain raw materials. It is also possible that agriculture of a limited nature, such as the horticulture of native plants, had begun by this time.
Although archaeological sites had been recognized throughout this area for many years, it was not until 1926 that the importance of the Marksville site was established. In that year, Gerald Fowke of the Smithsonian Institute conducted the first scientific investigation of the area and produced a detailed map of the Marksville site. In 1933, James A. Ford, an undergraduate student at Louisiana State University, and F. M. Setzler, also of the Smithsonian Institute, uncovered evidence that connected Marksville to the development of the Hopewell culture, which was then known to be based primarily in Ohio.
The main portion of the Marksville site is surrounded by a semi-circular earthwork which is 3,300 feet long and ranges from 3 to 7 feet in height. The open side of the enclosure is the edge of a bluff along Old River. Openings in the earthwork, one in the western side and two in the southern end, suggest that its purpose was ceremonial rather than defensive. This enclosure probably was built to delineate a special area where the dead were buried and formal affairs were conducted. Six mounds of various sizes and shapes are located within the main enclosure, and others are built outside of it.
Marksville State Historic Site was designated a National Historic Landmark by the U.S. Department of the Interior in 1964, and thus joined a select group of properties which have since been recognized for their importance in American history.
Sarto Old Iron Bridge (Next to LA 451 in Big Bend, southeast of Marksville) - The steel-truss swinging bridge built over Bayou des Glaises in 1916 is a rare surviving example of its kind. It was the first bridge in Louisiana listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It is open to pedestrian traffic only.
Hypolite Bordelon Home (LA 1 in Marksville) - This Creole cottage houses a museum and tourist center. It was built between 1800 and 1820, and the museum interprets the lives of early settlers of Avoyelles Parish.
Tunica-Biloxi Indian Center & Museum (Located on LA 1 south of Marksville) - The museum is constructed in the shape of a Native American mound and features the famed Tunica-Biloxi Treasures Collection.
Spring Bayou Wildlife Management Area (WMA) (3 miles southeast of Marksville), Pomme de Terre WMA (6 miles east of Moreauville) and Dewey Wills WMA (8 miles south of Alexandria) - These areas feature several thousand acres of forest and waterways for hunting, birding, camping, boating, fishing, canoeing or observing wildlife. Boat launches are available.
Kisatchie National Forest and Kincaid Lake Recreation Area (Alexandria) - Hike on Louisiana's longest trail, the Kisatchie National Forest's Wild Azalea National Recreation Trail, including 31 miles of pine woods decorated with pink azaleas and snowy white dog- woods in season. Kincaid Lake offers picnicking, swimming, fishing, a campground and boat launches.
Grand Cote National Wildlife Refuge (Hwy. 1 south, Tunica-Biloxi Indian Reservation) - Visitors may view a large and varied bird population in the 6,000-acre migratory bird refuge. No hunting is allowed.
Lake Ophelia National Wildlife Refuge (Hwy. 1 south, Tunica-Biloxi Indian Reservation) - The 15,000-acre migratory bird refuge offers wildlife observation, fishing and limited hunting.