Get a Hands-on History Lesson at Ft. Ancient

A visit to these astonishing earthworks can remind you that the past is always present and that history is worth exploring.

Kids really have to experience history to understand it. Hearing about Ft. Ancient’s Hopewell earthworks is one thing; seeing them up close is another.

Photograph by Sarah McCosham

Located in Oregonia, Ft. Ancient is a National Historic Landmark with the largest and best-preserved manmade earthworks in the country. It’s 100 acres of beautiful mounds that were used for protection, ceremonies, functional, and social purposes a long, long time ago. Ft. Ancient is a living lesson in Ohio history that will leave an impression on your kids.

There are indoor and outdoor museums at Ft. Ancient; starting indoors will provide context and meaning to the outdoor wonders. The museum has an entire room just for kids, complete with instruments, tools, artifacts, and even a scavenger hunt. Just outside the children’s museum is an enclosed garden with hand-built replicas of Hopewell dwellings. These are the right size for kids to explore, and they’ll love investigating each unique structure!

Photograph by Sarah McCosham

The main attraction at Ft. Ancient is, of course, the earthworks: a series of large, man-made, hand-built mounds. These well-preserved mounds helped the Hopewell people tell time and determine season changes, and kids will be amazed at how this process worked.

Ft. Ancient is beautiful—and now is the perfect time to visit. Hiking through the preserve, you’ll see several mounds up close, and really feel like you’ve stepped back in time. There are quite a few trails to explore; the Connector Trail is a great place for families to start. It’s just a quarter-mile long, so even little legs can handle it.

Photograph by Sarah McCosham

Perhaps the biggest lesson history teaches us is that history is never really buried in the past. Today’s present is tomorrow’s history; the cycle goes on and on. The past is never truly forgotten, its stories and presence making our present all the richer. This is the real lesson of Ft. Ancient.

Ft. Ancient recently reopened its doors to visitors, and it’s the perfect summer break day trip. The museum and grounds are open Wednesday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m.

Ft. Ancient, 6123 State Route 350, Oregonia, (513) 932-4421

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