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Located East of Anderson, Indiana, Mounds State Park preserves ten of the earthen structures from the Adena-Hopewell people. Archaeologists believe that these mounds were built between 250AD and 50 AD. Mounds State Park also preserves the Bronnenberg home. In 1820, the Bronnenberg family came from Germany and started a farming complex near the earthen structures. They helped preserve the mounds, even though amusement park rides were sprinkled in between them. In 1929 the land was donated to the Indiana Department of Conservation and in October of 1930, Mounds State Park was established. Today Mounds State Park has preserved the earthen structures along with creating hiking trails and playgrounds.


  • Amusement Park as remembered by Cap Bronnenberg
  • Bronnenberg House
  • Bronnenberg Farm Plan
  • Great Mound
  • Map of the Mounds
  • Mounds Sign

Before European settlers came to the American continents thousands of Native American tribes were settling all across the land. The Adena-Hopewell people called Central Indiana their home. They constructed ceremonial mounds used for religious ceremonies and astrological events. Mounds State Park preserves ten of those mounds. The largest one is known as the Great Mound. The Great Mound is about 350 feet across making it about equal to the size of an American football field. It also had a ditch in the middle which is 60 feet wide and 10 feet deep. The Great Mound was built in different stages. Therefore, it is difficult for archaeologists to determine everything that the Mound was used for; however, they are certain it was used as a burial mound. 

Along with the Great Mound, there are about nine other earthen structures preserved in Mounds State Park. The mound that had the most artifacts found around it is known as the Fiddleback Mound because of its shape. The artifacts uncovered included chipped stone flakes, burned clay chunks, pottery shards, fire broken rocks, and some wood charcoal. Archaeologists suggest that these mounds were constructed over a 300-year period, beginning in 250 AD with the work ending around 50AD. 

Mounds park also preserves the Bronnenberg home. Frederick Bronnenberg Sr. arrived in the United States from Germany around 1800. He was supposedly sent by his mother to avoid being recruited military. After being destined for Illinois, he stopped in what today is known as Madison County, Indiana in 1820. There are multiple stories on why he stopped. One story says it was because of a broken-down wagon and oxen. Another story describes the illness of a young daughter making it to difficult for his wife, Barbara to continue. Whether they stopped because of a broken wagon or an illness does not matter, what does matter is they stopped and started a farm. 

Frederick Bronnenber Jr. constructed the house that still stands at Mounds Park today. He was the third child of Frederick Sr. After some additions by other family members, the home became very large with two stories. The building materials used were entirely local. The home is the last original structure standing from the Bronnenberg farm, which once included a barn, corncrib, smokehouse, summer kitchen and more. 

In 1901, Frederick Jr. died and left his son Ransom in charge of the estate. In 1905, Ransom leased approximately 40 acres of land to the Union Traction Company, with an option to buy in five years. Those 40 acres are now on the South West corner of Mounds State Park. The Union Traction Company used the land to create an amusement park that operated for two decades. The amusement park was known as Mounds Park. It had a roller coaster, merry-go-round, skating rink, shooting-gallery, bowling ally, penny arcade, and more. Nothing was ever built on the earthworks; however, they were constructed near them. There was a miniature train the circled the Great Mound. The amusement park was not able to survive through the struggles of the Great Depression and closed in 1929. In the same year, the Union Traction Company sold the land to the Madison County Historical Society, which immediately sold it to the Indiana Department of Conservation. On October 7, 1930, Mounds State Park was established.

The legacy of Mounds State Park can not be separated from the influence of the Bronnenberg family. The family recognized the uniqueness of the earthen structures and sought to preserve them. Even when attractions shared the same ground, the Mounds were still preserved. The conservation efforts by the Bronnenberg family helped make the earthen structures some of the best-preserved in the region. The Bronnenberg conservation effort does not go unnoticed. Thousands of visitors a year come to mounds park to participate in hiking, learning, playing, and swimming. When they enter the park they drive past the restored Bronnenberg home.

Cochran, Donald R.. McCord, Beth K. . The Archaeology of Anderson Mounds, Mounds State Park, Anderson Indiana. Muncie, Indiana. 2001.

Flook, Chris. 2,000 Years of History & Nature at Mounds State Park, Indiana. February 24th 2017. Accessed June 26th 2020. https://visitindiana.com/blog/index.php/2017/02/24/mounds-state-park/.

Mounds State Park, Indiana DNR. Accessed June 26th 2020. https://www.in.gov/dnr/parklake/2977.htm.

Image Sources(Click to expand)

Cochran, Donald R.. McCord, Beth K. . The Archaeology of Anderson Mounds, Mounds State Park, Anderson Indiana. Muncie, Indiana. 2001.

Cochran, Donald R.. McCord, Beth K. . The Archaeology of Anderson Mounds, Mounds State Park, Anderson Indiana. Muncie, Indiana. 2001.

Cochran, Donald R.. McCord, Beth K. . The Archaeology of Anderson Mounds, Mounds State Park, Anderson Indiana. Muncie, Indiana. 2001.

Cochran, Donald R.. McCord, Beth K. . The Archaeology of Anderson Mounds, Mounds State Park, Anderson Indiana. Muncie, Indiana. 2001.

Cochran, Donald R.. McCord, Beth K. . The Archaeology of Anderson Mounds, Mounds State Park, Anderson Indiana. Muncie, Indiana. 2001.

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