The Native American Earthworks
Bronnenberg Family and their story on this land
Mounds Amusement Park becomes Mounds State Park
Mounds State Park contains and preserves some of the finest examples of earthwork and mound building in Indiana. Built by the Adena and Hopewell cultures around 160 B.C., the 10 mounds and earthworks within the park boundary range in size from a few inches tall to several feet high. These mounds were used primarily for ceremony, celebration, and observing of celestial bodies. Research indicates that these mounds were used to track the seasons (via solar alignments and other stellar alignments). The largest and best preserved of the park's mounds is the "Great Mound," which is easily accessed by trail 1. Technically referred to as a "circular enclosure," this earthwork is the largest of its kind in the state, and is nearly a quarter-mile in circumference.
In the early 19th century, a family of German immigrants, the Bronnenbergs, made this site their home. Owning more than 600 acres, they operated a large farm, with their fields and pastures located in the present-day picnic area.
One of the sons, Fredrick Bronnenberg Jr., built a two-story brick farmhouse that stands to this day. Constructed in the 1840s, virtually every bit of the house came from the surrounding woodlands - the foundation is limestone quarried from the nearby White River, the bricks were handmade on site, and most of the woodwork is Tuliptree.
In 1897, some of the Bronnenberg land was leased to the Indiana Union Traction Company, which operated an amusement park in the southern end of the property. Attractions included a roller coaster, roller skating rink, shooting gallery, carousel, boat rides on the river, and a pavilion with a restaurant on the first floor and a dance hall on the second. Many dance marathons of the "roaring 20s" were held there. But when the Great Depression began, this business, like so many others, simply failed. The Madison County Historical Society then purchased the land and donated it to the state of Indiana. Mounds Park became Mounds State Park in October of 1930.