Located 26-miles west of present day Nacogdoches, the Caddo Mounds State Historic Site is one of the more unique historic sites in the Lone Star State. Once the ceremonial center for the Hasinai, a group of Caddo Indians, this site preserves the remnants of this great Mound Builder culture that thrived here more than 1,200 years ago.
Those of us who love Texas owe a debt of gratitude to the Caddo. The name of our beloved state comes from the Caddo word “tejas” which means friend. It’s hard to imagine our great State having any name other than Texas.
The Caddo selected this site near the Neches River because the soil was ideal for agriculture, the springs that flowed into the Neches provided a reliable source of water, and the surrounding forest yielded lots of food resources. As a result, the Caddo thrived in this region for more than 500 years.
Over time, these native Americans developed trade routes that connected them with other native groups in Central Texas and as far away as present day Florida to the east and Illinois to the north. The Hasinai group that inhabited Caddo Mounds was also a part of a larger Caddo domain that encompassed northeast Texas, northwest Louisiana, western Arkansas, and eastern Oklahoma.
The Historic Site preserves three remaining and distinctive earthen mounds and a replica of a large thatched beehive-shaped Caddo hut made of native grasses. These dwellings were designed to be cool in the summer and warm in the winter.
The museum at the site is worth visiting. It features informative displays and artifacts dating from A.D. 750–A.D. 1400, including pottery, tools, and weapons. I encourage you to visit the museum before you walk the 0.7 mile self-guided interpretive trail to see the Caddo’s burial, low temple, and ceremonial mounds. This self-guided trail also leads to a portion of the old El Camino Real de los Tejas National Historic Trail, which runs from Louisiana to Mexico.
Caddo Mounds is an excellent choice for a day trip or as a stop on your next East Texas road trip. One thing is certain, the Caddo enjoyed our great state long before we arrived on the scene. And you will enjoy your visit to this well-maintained historic site. It’s worth visiting and learning about the people whose native language gave us the great name of Texas.