Caddo Mounds State Historic Site sits in a small prairie, tucked just inside the pine curtain of East Texas. If you stand on the porch of its temporary visitors center and look southwest down state Highway 21, you can see a good distance – all the way to a forested ridge a few miles off. You couldn’t always see that far, but you can now.
“We were kind of isolated in this pine bowl, if you will, with the tall trees all around us, and then this prairie here,” says Jeffrey Williams, president of the Friends of Caddo Mounds. “But with the pines gone it looks so different.”
The site, located about 30 miles west of Nacogdoches, was home to a Caddo village for centuries. Most of them live in Oklahoma now, but they left a conspicuous legacy on their homeland: earthen mounds. There are three of them at the historic site – a triptych of grassy undulations.
But nearby trees and buildings were destroyed when a tornado hit the site last April during the annual Caddo Culture Day, a celebration during which modern-day Caddo demonstrate traditional artwork, dancing, food and music. Fortunately, the mounds were untouched by the tornado.