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Earthwork Site Fortified Hill May Open To The Public As Early As Next Spring

Pyramid Hill's website. The ancient sculpture museum owns Fortified Hill.
Volunteers are actively removing honeysuckle to clear the first trial scheduled to open to the public next spring.

COVID-19 delayed the opening of a Butler County earthwork site but now volunteers are busy clearing what will become a public trail scheduled to open in March 2022.

There's some drama behind Ross Township's Fortified Hill. In 2019, the rare Native American earthwork went on the auction block after the owner died and didn't specify what was to happen to it. That's when Dr. Jeff Leipzig and others stepped up and began a campaign to save it,as reported by WVXU in this story.

Eventually, the Harry T. Wilks Family Foundation bought Fortified Hill along with the help of some online donations and donated it to Pyramid Hill,an ancient sculpture museum.

What Is On The Property?

Similar to Fort Ancientand Serpent Mound, this is believed to be a community gathering place where Native Americans came together for events and honored and buried their dead. Earthworks often contain alignments with astronomical events like the summer solstice.

When WVXU took a tour in 2019 with Leipzig and The Cincinnati Museum Center's Bob Genheimer, Genheimer pointed out the inner maze of walls, built by the Hopewell Nation, are all in tact. At the time, Genheimer said when referring to the walls, "That's the important part. It's like doors to a church, if all the walls are gone but the doors are there and the alter's there, that's all you need."

Credit Ann Thompson / WVXU
The Cincinnati Museum Center's Bob Genheimer holds a map to show exactly where we were standing in 2019.

What Is Happening Now?

The owners, Pyramid Hill, have asked the President of the Heartland Earthworks Conservancy Jarrod Burks, Ph.D., to come up with a plan to open the property to the public. Pyramid Hill says it would like the opening to be in March 2022.

"That's not very far away," says Burks. "There's a lot to do and knowing this, I had sort of designed the outdoor part of the park in a three-stage development." A single trail would be the first to open with others and interpretative panels down the road.

In preparation, volunteers are clearing honeysuckle from what will be one of the trails. Contact Pyramid Hill to help.

Ann Thompson has decades of journalism experience in the Greater Cincinnati market and brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to her reporting.