BAKELY, Georgia — Off the beaten path and through the trees, a hidden gem in Southwest Georgia is telling the stories of the Woodland Period mound builders.
Kolomoki Mound State Park Manager Lauren Bryant said the park was donated to the Georgia State Parks in 1938, but its origin dates back further.
"Kolomoki was inhabited between 200 and 900 AD," Bryant.
Kolomoki means land of the white oaks.
It's what historians call the Indian tribe that once lived here because their home was right next to the Kolomoki creek.
"We're one of the largest mound sites in the southeast," Bryant said. "You won't find an older mound in the southeast than what you find here."
Bryant said there's no written documentation for that time, so they use artifacts and archaeological research to learn about the tribe.
She said there are seven mounds at Kolomoki, which were each handmade with dirt and clay and created for different reasons.
"We have two burial mounds, mound D and E," Bryant said. "Then, we have two smaller ceremonial mounds. We have the large temple mound, which is 56 feet tall and is as large as a football field on the bottom."
The 1,300-acre property was a ceremony site for Native American tribes throughout the southeast.
The land was eventually abandoned after 900 AD when the natives that lived here moved closure to the Chattahoochee River.
"The mercer family took it over in the late 1800s," Bryant said. "They farmed it. This actually used to be a peanut field at one time."
This only lasted a little over a century because the people in the nearby town knew there was an important history to preserve, so that's why they donated the land to the state of Georgia.
They've since created a museum to display and tell the stories of the people who once lived there, while also preserving the land for visitors to hike, camp, kayak and relax by the lake.
"We have so many people that come to stay a couple of nights as they're traveling but then end up extending their stay because they find out how peaceful it is here," Bryant said. "That's what I want. I want people to keep coming back."