Rob Nurre and other volunteers have been busy at Man Mound Park this week. They trimmed the area around the ancient, human-shaped effigy mound to give visitors a better idea of the size and shape of the approximately 1,000-year-old figure built into the landscape. Careful to respect the site and its importance to the culture that created it, they also added a fresh coat of white paint to the place on Man Mound Road where the structure’s legs would have crossed.
On Sunday, Nurre, a landscape historian and the volunteer caretaker of the site, and representatives from various archaeological and historical groups will celebrate the 106th anniversary of the preservation of the mound, the only remaining human-shaped effigy mound. Man Mound Day will take place at the park, located northeast of Baraboo on Man Mound Road, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. with informal tours, exhibits and a chance to view the structure from above.
The mound originally was measured and mapped by famed local historian William Canfield 155 years ago.
Nurre, who lives “12 man mound strides to the east of the park,” moved to his home several years ago to be closer to the site. He has worked as its volunteer caretaker for eight years.
“Location is why I moved here,” he said. “It was the Man that brought me here.”
The mound’s feet and legs were destroyed when the road went through, but groups have worked to map and mark the spaces where the original figure’s limbs would have been using paint and sheets of plastic to recreate them.
Nurre said it’s important for visitors to have the ability to envision “the whole mound, not just the piece that’s left.”
The Sauk County Historical Society, which owns the park, Wisconsin Historical Society, State Archaeology Program, Center for Wisconsin Archaeology, Effigy Mounds National Monument, local artists, a Canfield lookalike and others will be on hand Sunday to share their perspectives on the 214-foot effigy mound.
“It’s really a chance for people who want to learn a little bit more about this mound as well as effigy mounds in this area,” Nurre said. “ … Some people who live here and have lived here most of their lives have never heard of it.”
Nurre said there are some exciting things in the works for the park, including the possibility of being named a National Historic Landmark. There’s also some interest in creating a permanent viewing platform to give visitors a better vantage point.
Dawn Jelinek, who died last summer at the age of 93, will be one face missing at Sunday’s celebration. Jelinek had been a longtime ambassador of sorts for the park and the mound. She purchased and remodeled the Man Mound School House in the late 1960s and lived for many years in the structure, which sits next to the park.
Jelinek loved to talk with visitors and share information about the history of the mound, said Nurre. He said he hopes Sunday’s visitors will come away with an appreciation of the ancient site.
“I think we have a responsibility as a culture, as a society to take care of these things,” he said.
Sunday’s event is designed to help visitors understand the importance of respecting, preserving and treasuring the landmark, Nurre added. “What we’re trying to do is just raise the awareness of this really special little park that is part of the cultural landscape of Sauk County and the Baraboo area.”
He invited the public to drop by Sunday’s celebration.