Historic Indian burial and ceremonial mounds are special places. Some of the most well-preserved in our area outside of Devil’s Lake State Park are the Kingsley Bend Indian Mound group on Highway 16 just 3 miles south of Wisconsin Dells. Here’s what the historical marker has to say;
“The mounds of this group are a fairly representative sample of those built by the people of the Effigy Mound Culture between A.D. 700-1000. It has been through excavation of other burial mounds quite similar to these that archeologists have learned most of what they know about the people who built them. These people lived by hunting, fishing and gathering wild vegetable foods. They practiced little if any agriculture.
There was usually only a single burial in mounds such as these, but in some mounds upwards of a dozen burials have been found. Artifacts such as flint tools and clay pots were seldom included with the burials. Archeologists have not yet accurately determined the significance of the various animal and geometric shapes in which the mounds were built.”
Originally there were at least thirty conical, linear, and effigy mounds with in the Kingsley Mound group which overlooks the Wisconsin River to the north-west. (Some are on private land across the road and east of the preserve.) Shapes are symbolic of the three natural realms of air (bird), earth (bear), and water (water spirit or panther). Today within the preserve you’ll find around 20 mounds of varying forms and sizes.
Since 2006 Kingsley Bend has been owned and maintained by the H0-Chunk Nation. Under the nation’s care the preserve is undergoing a major restoration project including not just the public areas but restoration of oak savanna and native prairie as well. The mounds themselves are maintained according to protocols developed along the Ho-Chunk Nation that dis-allow mowing of the mounds, but instead a healthy ground cover is maintained to slow erosion. For visitors to the site this means that the shapes of the mounds are easily identifiable. Keep in mind that this is not just a historical site, but a religious one as well. It needs not be said that visitors should be respectful and not walk on the mounds.
In order to get to the Kingsley Bend Indian Mounds from the Baraboo area you must either cross the Wisconsin River in Wisconsin Dells or Portage. From there you get on Highway 16. The preserve is about 3 miles south of Wisconsin Dells on the right or west side of the road. It’s about a 14 mile drive north from the city of Portage.
View Baraboo Area Travel Guide in a larger map