Poverty Point National Monument | BORROW PIT

Borrow pit next to Ridge 6 at Poverty Point National Monument

Borrow pit next to Ridge 6 at Poverty Point National Monument

WALKING TOUR STOP 12

Borrow Pit

Stop 12 on the walking tour of Poverty Point National Monument is a borrow pit. This is a common construction term for an area where dirt is dug for use as landfill at another location. At Poverty Point, all of the mounds and ridges were built by digging dirt from one area and piling it high in another area. The Indians did not have draft animals, carts, or modern tools, so they had to dig the dirt by hand and transport it by foot to the desired location in baskets, one basketful at a time. Mound A alone took an estimated 15.5 million baskets of dirt.

As you walk from Mound A to the Borrow Pit, you are actually walking on the top of Ridge 6, the outermost of the Poverty Point ridges. If you look to your left, you will definitely see that you are up higher, probably three feet or so. The gully on the left is the borrow pit. Dirt was dug from here and piled high to form Ridge 6 and perhaps other structures within Poverty Point. It is difficult to see the depression in the photo above, but the ditch is well defined and easy to see in person.

The central section of Ridges 2 through 6 are surrounded by the forest. If you look to your right, you might notice a series of dips and rises that make up Ridges 5, 4, and 3. If you can’t see them, you’d definitely notice them if you cut through the forest to get back to the Visitor Center. You’d go down into a shallow gully and up a small hill. Down into a shallow gully and up a small hill.

The ridges in the forest are better preserved than those in the open fields for a number of reasons. One, the trees helped protect them from erosion. Two, these areas were never farmed, thus farmers never plowed them under to level their fields. And three, the central and northern sections of Poverty Point were originally lower than the southern sections, so these ridges had to be built higher in order to bring them level with the southern ridges, and thus there was more dirt to begin with.

While being better preserved, the central and northern ridges at Poverty Point are still heavily degraded. Instead of being elevated platforms with a level surface on which houses could be built, they have eroded away into soft, subtle, rounded hills. If you look closely at the following two photos, you can see the slight hills of the ridges in the forest. Faded gray lines on the photos help define the hills.

Ridge at the central section of the Poverty Point ridge complex

Ridge at the central section of the Poverty Point ridge complex

Ridge at the central, forested area of Poverty Point National Monument

Ridge at the central, forested area of Poverty Point National Monument


Stop 13: Old Harlin Bayou | Stops 10-11: Mound A | Walking Tour Main Page


Back to the Top


Last updated on November 9, 2022
Share this article