Chattahoochee Landing Mounds - Chattahoochee, Florida
|Chattahoochee Landing Mounds
The primary mound at Chattahoochee Landing once
supported the home of a warrior chief or priest and
probably a ceremonial structure.
Chattahoochee Landing Mounds
There were once as many as seven
mounds in the mound group, but
time and erosion has destroyed all
Fort Walton Era
The mounds date from the Fort
Walton Era (A.D. 900 - A.D. 1550),
the name given the Mississippian
era in Northwest Florida.
CHATTAHOOCHEE LANDING MOUNDS
Ancient City on the Apalachicola
|Copyright 2013 & 2015 by Dale Cox
All rights reserved.
Last Updated: November 29, 2015
American Indians in the South
Monument from the Past
The largest mound has survived
floods, time, erosion, modern
construction and more. Roughly
one-third of the original structure
A visitor examines the time
weathered remains of one of the
smaller mounds at Chattahoochee
One of the most significant archaeological
sites in the Deep South, the Chattahoochee
Landing Mounds complex was a ceremonial
center of the Mississippian era (AD 900 -
Originally composed of seven mounds, three
of which are visible today, the complex was
the center of a large city that thrived on the
banks of the upper Apalachicola River as
much as 1,000 years ago. The site is now
protected and preserved by the City of
The Chattahoochee Landing Mounds were
constructed during the Fort Walton Era, the
name given to the Mississippian time period
in Northwest Florida. Evidence has been
found of earlier use of the site, dating back
thousands of years before the time of Christ.
The reason for such importance is obvious.
Looking upstream from the mounds, visitors
today see the Jim Woodruff Dam. Prior to the
completion of that dam in 1958, however,
they would have seen the original confluence
of the Flint and Chattahoochee Rivers. These
two rivers drain a vast area of Georgia,
Alabama and Florida before combining at
Chattahoochee to form the Apalachicola.
During prehistoric times, this river system
was a major network for commerce and
trade. Chiefdoms as far north as the
mountains of North Georgia sent copper,
mica and other products down the rivers for
trade, while prehistoric Indians living along
the Gulf of Mexico sent shells and other
items of interest up the Apalachicola for trade.
The Chattahoochee Landing Mounds were
likely the center of a large commercial city
because of their location immediately below
the confluence of the Chattahoochee and
Flint Rivers. Commerce coming from both
upstream and down would meet here, giving
the site wealth and power.
While some archaeological research has
been done at Chattahoochee Landing,
including a recent effort to identify the
locations of the all seven of the original
mounds, much about the site remains a
mystery. No one is sure example when the
mounds were built, for example, although it
is thought the work was done early in the
Mississippian era, probably between A.D.
900 and A.D. 1200.
The exact purpose of the mounds has also
been debated. The first "researcher" to study
them was famed site looter C.B. Moore, who
pronounced them to be "domiciliary" in
nature. This meant that he thought they
functioned only as platforms for houses and
other structures, but had no other real
Moore's assessment of the mounds,
however, was wrong. Prior to the city's efforts
to protect the site, relic collectors removed
many artifacts from the mounds including
ceremonial vessels and even human bones.
Clearly the mounds, particularly the largest
one, served multiple purposes.
In addition, recent study of the overall layout
of the complex suggests that the mounds
functioned as an astronomical observatory,
similar to Stonehenge in England.
The alignment of Indian mounds like those at
Chattahoochee to the summer or winter
solstice or other astronomical events is not
unusual. The massive mound complex at
Kolomoki, Georgia, for example, performs
the same purpose, as does the site at Spiro,
Oklahoma. Similar alignments at other
mound groups across the eastern United
States have been noted.
Being able to time and identify celestial
events was of great importance to prehistoric
people because it helped them to know
when the seasons were coming and going.
The mounds also clearly were used for
ceremonial purposes. The largest mound
undoubtedly supported the home of the
town's principal leader or priest, as well as a
temple structure. While time has softened its
outline, the massive platform mound
originally would have appeared almost
pyramidal in shape.
The Chattahoochee Landing Mounds had
been long abandoned by the time the
Spanish first entered the vicinity in the 1600s.
Various travelers over the years marveled at
the mounds and commented on their size
and presence. There is even evidence that
the British built a fort atop the largest one
during the War of 1812!
The Chattahoochee Landing Mounds can be
seen today at Chattahoochee Landing, a
park operated by the City of Chattahoochee.
They can be reached by following River
Landing Road from its intersection with US
90 down the hill to the Apalachicola River.
Interpretation at the site is in its early stages,
but the mounds are clearly visible. Facilities
include picnic tables, restrooms,
playgrounds, walking trails, boat ramps and
docks. The park is free to visit.