Fort Ancient, the Hopewell Earthworks site and National Historic Landmark could soon be a World Heritage Site.

3 reasons why this ancient site near Dayton is seriously worth visiting

In the Dayton area, you don’t need a DeLorean to experience what our region looked like thousands of years ago.

From 1000-1750 CE, according to, Native Americans believed to be descendants of the Hopewell culture lived and flourished in villages settled along the Ohio River. One of the most well-preserved sites remaining is Fort Ancient Earthworks & Nature Preserve, a National Historic Landmark near Lebanon. 

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Here are three reasons this site is a must-visit if you’re in the area.

1. It’s pure history -- and there’s MUCH more than meets the eye

Visitors Matt Berger, left, and Kristen Wickert observe a mound at Fort Ancient that is astronomically aligned with the Winter Solstice. Fort Ancient Earthworks outside Lebanon are one stop on the Ancient Ohio Trail, a system of Native American heritage sites a retired UC professor is turning into a global tourist attraction.John Hancock, a retired architecture professor at UC, is also helping put together the application for Fort Ancient, managed by the Dayton Society of Natural History, and other Ohio sites to be designated as a World Heritage Site. But the Ancient Ohio Trail is a separate initiative designed to draw tourists to Ohio. TY GREENLEES / STAFF
Photo: Ty Greenlees

Ceremonial platform mounds built by the Hopewell Native Americans scatter the trails of Fort Ancient, showcasing the natural and archaeological features of Southern Ohio.

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Earthen walls stand strong on either side of the road as visitors enter the preserve, remembering a time when this region was home to a civilization vastly different than our own.

2. It could soon be a World Heritage Site (and one of the few in the U.S.)

Three-fourths of the calories consumed by the ancient Fort Ancient people who lived along the Great Miami River 800 years ago came from corn. CONNIE POST / STAFF
Photo: Connie Post

The significance Fort Ancient has to this region is so great, that the site could soon become a World Heritage Site — joining the likes of only 23 other World Heritage Sites in the U.S., including Yosemite National Park.

3. Events are held year-round

The prehistoric site not only has a museum you’ll want to get lost in as you see firsthand, what our predecessors created so long ago, but year-long events are scheduled— bringing some of the most forward-thinking scholars and natural history educators to Southern Ohio. 

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Just a few of the events planned for 2018 include guided wild flower hikes, observing the summer solstice as the ancient people did 2,000 years ago, maple syrup tutorials and many others. 

Example of dugout canoe used by Fort Ancient Indians. Make sure you wear your life jacket on this boat. CONTRIBUTED

Want to go?  

WHAT: Fort Ancient Earthworks & Nature Preserve 

WHERE: 6123 State Route 350, Oregonia 

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