Saturday, March 31, 2018

Copper Culture State Park, WI

Number 30! Today was a special day as I checked-off my thirtieth Wisconsin State Park I've explored. I'm going to be traveling pretty much every weekend the next few years because I'm writing a guidebook to be published about all of our state parks, forests and recreation areas. At a itty-bitty 42 acres, Copper Culture is one of the tiniest state parks in the system but it's so rich in history and a beautiful surprise.
Don't be turned off by its sizeCopper Culture State Park is a big important place for Wisconsin history because it's one of the oldest Native American burial cemetery areas in North America. That gorgeous brick building seen in some of the photos is the Copper Culture Museum, recognized by the National Park Service as a National Historic Landmark, and is open for tours through the Oconto Historical Society once the snow melts away. The name of this state park derives from the Native American tribe that buried their dead here. The tribe made heavy use of copper from Northern Michigan and beyond, for jewelry and weaponry. There's an ever-flowing amount of fascinating history throughout these grounds. Carbon dating tests indicated that this Middle Archaic group, the “Old Copper Culture” people inhabited the lands at Copper Culture State Park between 5500 and 5600 BC. During the initial digs, archaeologists discovered twenty-two burial pits and some believe there could have been as many as 200 burials that took place here. These early residents used copper mined from the northern Lake Superior area, to make jewelry, fishing hooks
Near the main parking lot there's a large picnic area, enclosed shelter, and grilles for BBQing. The primary hiking trail at Copper Culture takes you right along the shore of the quiet and super clear Oconto River. I need to get back here soon with my kayak. I appreciate state parks like Copper Culture, that preserve Wisconsin's stories. Serene places like this teach us to cherish the importance of discovering our past ancestors and how they used these precious lands. I'm feeling grateful today for this perfect bluebird sky canvassing above the groves of birch.