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Norton Mound Group

Grand Rapids, Michigan
County of Kent.
Between Indian Mounds Drive & Interstate 196
National Register Number: 66000396
Resource type: Site.
The threat level was Threatened in
Congressional District: MI-3 Certified Local Government: YES
This NHL offers public access.
Please contact the NHL directly for visitor information.
Current use/information: Mounds are in a city park..
Web Site: www.sos.state.mi.us/history/preserve/phissite/norton.html.

Statement of Significance (as of designation - December 21, 1965):
These are the most imporant and best-preserved Hopewell mounds in the western Great Lakes region. The Norton Mound Group was the center of Hopewellian culture in that area, from ca. 400 B.C. to A.D. 400. Excavations in 1874 revealed numerous burials rich in grave offerings, and later excavations in 1963-1964 provided information on mound construction methods. At one time some 40 mounds were present, and though fewer than half remain today, these are well-preserved in a Grand Rapids city park.

Seasonal flooding from the Grand River and the resulting erosion are problematic. The land and mounds adjacent to the I-196 construction burrow pit (lake) are dangerously close to slipping into the water to be lost as other mounds have done before. Invasive biota, wind-blown trees, trees growing out of the mounds themselves and animal/bird habitats preside. The dense overgrowth of invasive species threatens the biological diversity of the site by not allowing the growth of native species. Continued unmanaged growth could cause damage beyond the capacity to stabilize and maintain the site leading to a severe loss of integrity. The site is also prey to homeless citizen's make-shift campsites and other trespassers. A partial chain link fence and closing the site to the public has had limited results. The ongoing development of the Millennium Park continues to attract interest in the site and the Public Museum is anxious to provide education and solicit volunteers for site clearing and preservation initiatives.

The Norton Mound Group NHL Cultural Landscape Management Plan, funded by the Urban Cooperation Board, was completed in July, 2007. Since that time, in-house meetings have been held to discuss the next steps for the education, preservation and maintenance plans. A Grand River "Clean-Up" day has been designated for September, 2008. The Public Museum intends to recruit volunteers to assist in trash pick-up along the road and around the perimeter of the site. Funding to plan short and long-term education, preservation efforts and implementation continues to be a challenge.

Recommendation/Change since last report:
The site needs a condition assessment.

Comments and questions about the database may be directed to NHL_info@nps.gov