Wessel and I do not like repeats. After we’ve been somewhere once, we’re on to the next thing. It’s a curse; it’s a joy. But we simply had to go back through the far-western mountain town of Franklin, NC, two days after first visiting. We’d already zipped through to see historic Main Street, cute but not overly so. Wessel enjoyed the bagpiper playing outside the Scottish Tartans Museum, while I was more interested in the Artisans on Main craft shop.
Only later, while reading the Macon County News, did Wessel learn about the Indian mound in downtown Franklin. Say what? We saw no signs. So we had to return on our way home.
I scoured Franklin’s online visitor information site. There is no mention of the town’s most fascinating site, not even under “Discover the Rich History of the Franklin area.” How could this be? A photo and map at panoramio.com led us to the location, though I’m sure we could have asked anyone in town.
So here’s the story. Franklin, population 4,000 or so, has — make that owns — one of the best preserved mounds in the Southeast. The Nikwasi Indian Mound is 30 feet tall and maybe half a block around. It’s about a quarter-mile from the heart of Main Street, surrounded by faded businesses, along with Indian Mound Realty. Judging from the clusters of Hispanic men milling around at 8:30 a.m., the area looks to be a hiring point for itinerant workers.
According to an article by Jon Ostendorff in the Asheville Citizen-Times, researchers recently used a ground-penetrating radar machine to look inside and found that the mound, more than 1,000 years old, was the site of the council house in an ancient Cherokee town.
The city has considered turning it into a park (no running on the mound, please!), but lacks the funding. What they need is another fund-raiser of the likes that first purchased the mound. In 1946, a local attorney worked with area schoolchildren to collect $1,500 in pennies to purchase and preserve this city treasure.