History

Why is this site important?

Fort Ancient is North America’s largest prehistoric Indian hilltop enclosure earthwork and is a place to explore 15,000 years of American Indian heritage and history in Ohio.

Fort Ancient State Memorial is Ohio’s first state park. On April 28, 1890, the Ohio General Assembly passed Senate Bill 308 providing funds to purchase Fort Ancient for the State of Ohio. In April 1891, the legislature authorized Ohio Archeological and Historical Society (now the Ohio Historical Society) to care for the site. Soon after acquiring the property, it was discovered that the 180 acres purchased did not include the entire earthworks, only the central section. It took the State of Ohio 18 years to purchase additional tracts. The state was in competition with the Fort Ancient Hotel Company, which wanted the land to establish a summer resort within the earthwork. The State of Ohio and the Historical Society finally won out and purchased the earthworks in 1908, although they paid more than double the per acre cost compared to the 1890 purchase. In 1908, E. O. Randall, editor of the Ohio History Journal celebrated the success:

The Ohio State Archaeological and Historical Society is to be heartily congratulated over the final accomplishment of its efforts, ex-tending through many years, of securing entire possession of Fort Ancient. It has been a long and stubborn siege, with many vicissitudes and delays and discouragements, but the last walls of the enclosure have finally been taken and the Society now "holds the fort."

In 1966, Fort Ancient became nationally recognized when it was named a National Historic Landmark. Fort Ancient State Memorial continues to be owned by the Ohio Historical Society, but is now managed by the Dayton Society of Natural History.


Ohio Earthworks Nominated for World Heritage Status

The significance of ancient Ohio earthworks has garnered Ohio international attention. In 2008, nine Ohio earthworks were selected by the United States Department of the Interior for inclusion on the United States’ Tentative List of sites to be submitted to United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) for inscription on the prestigious World Heritage List. If it is eventually inscribed on the World Heritage List, Ohio’s earthworks will join the ranks of the Pyramids of Egypt, the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, Galápagos Islands in Ecuador, the Taj Mahal in India—all of which are World Heritage sites. World Heritage status has the potential to elevate local and international awareness about the site's value, further encourage communities to protect and invest in their preservation, and increase potentially beneficial tourism to the site.