What is “Wickliffe Mounds”?

Wickliffe Mounds State Historic Site is the archaeological site of a prehistoric Native American village of the Mississippian mound builders. Located on a bluff overlooking the Mississippi river, the village was occupied from about 1100 AD to 1350 AD. The Mississippians built a complex settlement with permanent houses and earthen mounds situated around a central plaza. They farmed the river bottoms and participated in a vast trade network. They also buried their dead here with dignity and respect. After the 1300s the Mississippians at Wickliffe Mounds abandoned the village.

h

Early settlers to the region probably knew about the mounds at this site, but made little mention of it. The first formal notice occurred in 1888 when surveyor Robert Loughridge mapped the mounds for the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Colonel Fain W. King, a Paducah lumber magnate and relic collector, purchased the site and began excavating the mounds and developing a tourist attraction. King, later joined by his wife, Blanche Busey King, opened the site to public visitation from the beginning of his work, calling the site at first the “King Mounds” and eventually naming it the “Ancient Buried City.” King directed excavations from 1932 until 1939. Some of their excavations followed proper archaeological techniques, but their field notes and other records have disappeared. In 1946, the Kings retired and donated the site to Western Baptist Hospital in Paducah. The Western Baptist Hospital owned the Ancient Buried City from 1946 to 1983.

In recognition of the scientific importance and the educational potential of the mounds, Western Baptist Hospital donated the site to Murray State University in 1983. Murray State University reorganized the site, calling it the Wickliffe Mounds Research Center and set out to accurately understand, interpret and preserve the site with archaeologists and museum personnel in charge. Beginning in 1984, Murray State University conducted small scale excavations and archaeological laboratory research at Wickliffe Mounds. In 2004, Murray State University transferred the Wickliffe Mounds archaeological site and its collections to the Commonwealth of Kentucky, Commerce Cabinet. Designated as the Wickliffe Mounds State Historic Site, the mounds are operated by the Kentucky Department of Parks. The site is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is a designated Kentucky Archaeological Landmark, and is a common ground for Native American Indian cultures, past and present.

The site features a museum consisting of 3 excavated mounds with archaeological features, Mississippian burial practices, displays of artifacts from the site and a mural of a Mississippian village. The Ceremonial Mound is intact and can be accessed for a beautiful bird’s eye view of the park. A Hands-On Activity Touch Table rounds out the museum tour where visitors can use prehistoric tools and learn about Mississippian artifacts, technology and their environment. Wickliffe Mounds is also one of the certified interpretive centers along the Great River Road in all 10 of the Mississippi River states that have been selected to showcase and connect the historic stories of the Mississippi River.

Useful Links

Location

Contact

94 Green Street
Wickliffe, KY 42087
GPS: 36°58′15.67″N 89°5′34.30″W
Phone: (270) 335-3681
Email: carla.hildebrand@ky.gov
Park Manager: Carla Hildebrand

Admission

  • Adults: $5
  • Seniors (62+): $4
  • Kids age 5-15: $4
  • Active Duty Military: $3
  • School and Scout Rates: $2 to $5 based on program, call for appointment.
  • Group rates available by advance appointment.
h

Hours of Operation

  • 9:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M.
  • Open April through October
  • Wednesday through Sunday
  • Open Daily Memorial Day through Labor Day
Contact Us

We're not around right now. But you can send us an email and we'll get back to you, asap.

Not readable? Change text. captcha txt

Start typing and press Enter to search