Ancient Earthwork in Greene County, Ohio



Earthwork in Greene County, Ohio





      The fortification here presented affords a fine illustration of the character of the ancient defences of the West. It is situated on Massie's creek, a tributary of the Little Miami river, seven miles east from the town of Xenia, Greene county, Ohio; and consists of a high promontory, bounded on all sides, excepting an interval at the west, by a precipitous limestone cliff. Across the isthmus, from which the ground gradually subsides towards the plain almost as regularly as an artificial glacis, is carried a wall of earth and stones. This wall is now about ten feet high by thirty feet base, and is continued for some distance along the edge of the cliff where it is least precipitous, on the north. It is interrupted by three narrow gateways, exterior to each of which was formerly a mound of stones, now mostly carried away. Still exterior to these are four short crescent walls, extending across the isthmus. These crescents are rather slight, not much exceeding, at the present time, three feet in height. The cliff has an average height of upwards of twenty-five feet, and is steep and almost inaccessible. At d d are breaks in the limestone, where the declivity is sufficiently gentle to admit of a passage on horseback. At E is a fissure in the cliff, where persons may ascend on foot. The valley, or rather ravine, C C, is three hundred feet broad. Massie's creek, a considerable stream, washes the base of the promontory on the north. The area bounded by the cliff and embankment is not far from twelve acres. The whole is now covered with the primitive forest.
       The natural strength of this position is great, and no inconsiderable degree of skill has been expended in perfecting its defences. A palisade, if carried around the brow of the cliff and along the summit of the wall, would render it impregnable to savage assault. About one hundred rods above this work, on the opposite side of the creek, is a small circle, two hundred feet in diameter, enclosing a mound. About the same distance below, upon the same bank, is a large conical mound, thirty feet in height and one hundred and forty feet in diameter at the base. No other works of magnitude are known to exist, nearer than the great defensive structure on the Little Miami , twenty-one miles distant.