A winning bid of $650,000 by a conservancy group was enough to save the last privately owned Hopewell earthworks site in Ohio from development, reports the Chillicothe Gazette.
The group, Arc of Appalachia, started raising money two weeks before the auction was held on Tuesday, March 18. The group was able to secure the 89.74-acre tract of land, under which the Junction Group lies, with its $350,000 bid. The rest of the money will come from a grant the group expects to receive.
“Obviously, we’re confident, or otherwise, we wouldn’t be bidding tonight,” Nancy Stranahan, Arc of Appalachia director, told the Chillicothe Gazette. “This is a dream come true ... but our love is to put earthworks and nature preserves together.”
Looking at the land, it’s not clear there is anything there—it’s what lies beneath that tells the story of inhabitants from 2,000 years ago.
Chillicothe’s Junction Group—named for its location at the junction of the Paint and North Fork Creeks—can be seen using ground-penetrating technology.
“They’re still there,” National Park Service Park Ranger Tom Engberg told WBNS-10TV. “And it’s pretty amazing stuff to be able to see that below the surface. Because if you go out there and you look, you’re not going to see anything with the naked eye. But if you look at the magnetometry and all the other data, it shows that they’re still there and they’re actually pretty perfect when you look at them.”
Engberg also explained that: “These earthworks, they were geometric enclosures, huge circles, squares and octagons,” he said. “We know that these were gathering places.”