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Warren County Local History by Dallas Bogan

Carlisle Fort Existed About 2,000 Years Ago

Contributor:
Dallas Bogan on 28 July 2004
Source:
Dallas Bogan, Warren County, Ohio and Beyond (Bowie Maryland: Heritage Press, 1979) page
Return to Index to see a list of other articles by Dallas Bogan

In a previous article Carlisle Fort was mentioned as being a prehistoric find within the confines of Warren County. As was mentioned it was located in the extreme northwestern part of the County, a portion in Warren and part in Montgomery Counties. Carlisle Fort, or Big Twin Works, is a hilltop fortification which lies on the west bank of Big Twin Creek, about 2 1/2 miles south of Germantown and about one mile west of Carlisle. The creek empties into the Great Miami River about four miles to the south. C.E. Blosser suggested the name of the fort in regards to its location near Carlisle. Hilltop fortifications were thought to be of a later time than the mounds and hilltop enclosures. The ancients, to whom these works are attributed to, are the Hopewell Indians who lived within the bounds of Ohio nearly 2000 years ago.
Carlisle Fort was thought to have been built from AD 1 to AD 300. Historians thought this type of defensive fortification was a reflective measure concerning a declining cultural race. The first survey of the site was by S.H. Binkley and C.E. Blossom in 1835. They returned to the site in 1875 for further examination.
Carlisle Fort is different in respect to other earthworks located along the Scioto, Ohio, Great Miami, and the Muskingum Rivers, because of its location along a secondary waterway. The actual site is located on the peak of a hill a short distance west of Big Twin Creek. On the north and south side of the hill are deep ravines; on the east of the extensive bluff is a sharp declining drop of from one hundred and twenty-five to two hundred feet. On the east of the bluff is a terrace leading to Big Twin Creek.
J.P. MacLean, an early archaeologist, writes in 1885 in regards to the layout of the fort:
"The terrace is separated in two parts, an upper and lower, formed in the direction of the stream. On the west the hill is connected with the level lands by a broad peninsula. The wall is not accompanied by a ditch, and is situated on the brow of the hill, except on the northern side, where it occurs a little below. The wall, for the most part, is made of surface material although limestone is found in the southwestern gate. On the west, where the enclosure is most exposed, are discovered three walls. The entire length of the wall on the direct line of the middle wall, is three thousand six hundred and seventy-six feet, and encloses an area of from twelve to fifteen acres. The length of the wall on the Twin bluff is eleven hundred and ten feet."
Within the enclosure two stone mounds and one stone circle was originally located, the circle being near the center of the enclosed area. The stones within this enclosure were of such great abundance that when the first white settlers first saw the enormity of this find, they hurriedly made a makeshift road. With many hundreds of wagons they removed the stone contents, which were used in building dwellings, houses, barns, wells, etc., leaving only depression marks where the stone and circle mounds once stood.
S.H. Binkley wrote in 1889 that the Hopewell Indians for building a shelter might have laid out the stones previously mentioned. He explains a method of five lines of posts being erected, regarding height, notched for a reception of plate, and being securely fastened to the posts. The posts were to be held together by pole ties and rafters, secured by thongs, tough bark or cordage of a type. Binkley suggests that the outer lines of posts were low, probably not extending more than six feet from the ground, while a height of fifteen feet would be enough for the central line. To preserve the structure in its upright form, the great ridge of stone was heaped around the low posts as a support. (The Lake-dwellers of Switzerland practiced this method in early times.) Binkley also suggests that the construction of a roof in which would be waterproof could have possibly been made from thatch.
The Indians used bark as a roofing material for their huts, but its tendency to roll up at the sides would make it impractical on a large scale. Carlisle Fort was in the headlines in early 1990 concerning the installation of a 36-inch natural gas pipeline from Indiana to Lebanon, Ohio, by the American Natural Resources Pipeline Company. The Miami Valley Council of Native Americans made claims that the pipeline would interfere with the Indian burying sites. An agreement was made to install the pipeline at least 600 feet outside the Carlisle Fort border. (The boundaries of the fort consist of two areas, one fifteen and one twenty-two acres.)
Carlisle Fort was added to the National Register of Historic Places concerning its safekeeping for future generations and further study.


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This page created 28 July 2004 and last updated 28 September, 2008
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