Some may be aware that one of St. Louis’s nicknames is “Mound City.” This moniker developed because of the many Indian mounds of different shapes and sizes that were found in the area when the Usonians started moving in approximately 200 years ago. Many of these were quite sizable, though none were as impressive as the Monk’s Mound over at Cahokia on the Illinois side of the river. (Now it is an archaeological site. Not that long before the French and Spanish hit the Mississippi Valley, Cahokia had the been the great metropolis of northern North America, such as it was.)
The early U.S. arrivals had lots of fanciful theories about the mysterious cultures that created the mounds, but that did not stop them from becoming popular spots on which to build your farm, home, or “entertainment complex.” Then, as the city grew, it became even more popular to flatten the mounds and use the dirt for other purposes. Today there are barely any hills at all in most of St. Louis, much less anything that would justify the appellation “Mound City.” Slightly-Raised-Above-the-Riverbed City would be more like it. (A few miles inland, there is The Hill, the Little Italy of St. Louis where Joe Garagiola, Yogi Berra, and Early Republic historian Rosemarie Zagarri were all raised. The singular article form of the name is a significant clue to the local topography.)
The ex-mounds of Mound City are in the news today because what is thought to be the last remaining St. Louis Indian mound, or the remaining half of it, is up for sale. Located in south St. Louis along the Mississippi, it is locally known as Sugar Loaf Mound and features an elderly couple’s house right on top. Supposedly the house has a nice view of the river, and it must have awesome freeway access — part of the mound was used as fill for I-55 next door. The Budweiser brewery and downtown STL are just minutes away. Get your bid in now, because the Osage Nation is looking at buying the property to preserve it. The Osage would be buttressing what I gather is a somewhat disputed ancestral link between the historical Osage people and the Mississippian mound builders.
Now playing: Ramsay Midwood – Mohawk River