Poverty Point State Park In Louisiana

By Bonnie & Bill Neely

Although the name does not sound inviting, this is one of the most beautiful State RV Parks we have ever seen, located at the Louisiana State Park and Reservoir at Delhi, LA. The name is from the 1800’s abandoned plantation, which was on this property before it became the state park. All the RV sites are flat and paved with full hook-ups and quite nominally priced. Trees and good gravel trails through the deep woods surround the RV park. We had been here many years ago when the RV Park was a little more rustic, and we remembered it as an interesting place with  Indian Mounds. Since 2014 this has been designated a World Heritage Site and become part of the National Register of Historic Places, both quite significant designations.

The RV Park is located beside the Poverty Point Reservoir with a huge lake, boat marina, and lovely cabins to rent, some on the Bayou, and some which are on stilts along the lake shore, so you can fish right off your private boardwalk. In June early summer we found it very lush with beautiful trees and green grass, all perfectly clean and manicured, (also very hot and humid.) The children’s playground is well built and covered with rubber mats beneath swings and slide. At the Visitor Center is a sturdy fishing pier and smaller pond for fishing.

A few miles beyond the Reservoir we saw Black Bear Golf Course and Lodge with lovely hotel rooms, swimming pool, tennis court, and a great golf course. Nearby is also Black Bear Bistro to supply your cravings! This is an ideal holiday place with lots of activities for any recreational interest. This is a birdwatchers paradise with many migratory flocks and also resident ones. The woods are thick and great hiding places for many varieties of animals, including deer and black bears. Of course, you are near water, so snakes and lizards and other reptiles and amphibians are hiding. Visitors are instructed not to feed animals in the natural habitat, especially the mammals, which can start craving human food and begin to invade campsites. However, all campers and hikers know this! I was quite surprised to learn these black bears are native to this flat, hot, watery habitat. I thought bears preferred mountains and cold climates.

About eleven miles from the RV Park are the famous five Mounds of Poverty Point, the oldest and largest in North America and most of the world. Archeologists have determined the earliest civilizations to inhabit the surrounding area dated back to perhaps 10,000 BC, and the Poverty Point Mounds are from 2,000 BC to 1 AD. The Mounds here are not burial sites, and no absolute determination as to the purpose and use of them has been determined yet. However, magnetic imaging has determined much accurate data including the fact that fifty million cubic feet of dirt were hand-carried in baskets or animal skins (weighing 100 pounds each), equaling 100 million tons of dirt, to construct Mound A, 72 feet high and shaped like an enormous bird. Nomads settled here for centuries. Three of the five mounds are in perfect true North-South alignment, which was certainly no accident.

The Park has preserved tall native grass in semi-circular rows to indicate the lines in which it is believed that houses were built in a sort of amphitheater pattern facing the very large plaza meeting area. This was the largest city and survived the longest of any of the ancient historic sites in North America, and archeologists have determined this was a civilization which was hunter-gatherer, and no planting was done. People lived off the local natural habitat, hunting and fishing and gathering edible plants, berries, and nuts sustain thousands of people.

Many primitive art objects and tools made of stones have been found at Poverty Point Mounds area, even though no stones were native to the local surroundings, so it was determined that this was huge trade center with people coming hundreds of miles often along waterways, and stones were a highly prized item for which these ancient locals traded. No burial sites have been found, leading to the conclusion that open air, above ground burials were away from the living area, or bodies were committed to the water of bayous and rivers nearby.

The film at the Poverty Point Museum is very informative and well-done. Exhibits include paintings above cases of archeological finds, showing life of this ancient civilization. It is still a mystery why the Mounds were abandoned about 1600 AD. Guided hikes are offered, and demonstrations of earth ovens and spear throwing. We also saw Reward signs for the Jesse James Gang, who hid out in this area in the late 1800’s.

On the good path and wood stairway we climbed the largest Mound A, which is the largest in North America and was built over about 100 year period. For a good view of surrounding area,     it is worth the trek. Brochures from the Museum and signs at each point of the driving or walking trails explain the sites. Poverty Point was given World Heritage designation because of its cultural and historical importance, unprecedented cultural development of hunter-gatherers. We have been fortunate to visit many World Heritage sites around the world and these are always worth seeing and are preserved into perpetuity for their uniqueness and historical significance for the World.