Toolesboro Indian Mounds & Museum – Wapello, Iowa

Indian mounds.jpgToolesboro Indian Mounds & Museum – Wapello, Iowa This is a group of seven Woodland culture burial mounds and visitor center/museum with Oneota culture artifacts.

The Toolesboro site consists of seven burial mounds on a bluff overlooking the Iowa River near where it joins the Mississippi River. The conical mounds were constructed between 100 BC and AD 200 by a local Hopewell group. At one time, there may have been as many as twelve mounds, but subsequent settlement and excavation have reduced that number to the present seven. As of yet, no village site near the Toolesboro mounds has been located, and this is attributed to the shifting path of the Iowa River which has obliterated possible village sites on the flood plain over the last 2000 years.

Of the seven mounds, only two are visible on the grounds of the Educational Center. The rest are off in the woods, and are separated by a wire fence from the Educational Center. One of the mounds maintained near the Center, known as Mound 2, is the largest of the remaining mounds, measuring 100 feet in diameter and 8 feet in height. This mound was possibly the largest Hopewell mound in Iowa.

The mounds have been excavated by different groups of people since the middle of the nineteenth century. The Davenport Academy of Natural Sciences undertook extensive excavations in the last half of the nineteenth century. Contained within the mounds were typical Hopewell artifacts: copper tools, stone platform pipes, shell and pearl beads, chipped stone tools, and mica sheets. It is difficult to say the number of individuals contained within the mounds and their association to the artifacts and to each other, because of the non-scientific excavations. The mounds did contain a number of burials, although the human remains still available for analysis are few in numbers and poorly preserved.

The family of George H. Mosier donated the land containing the mounds to State of Iowa in 1963. Since then additional adjoining plots have been purchased to make a state preserve. In 1966, the Toolesboro mounds were designated as a National Historic Landmark. The Educational Center with the museum was constructed in 1969. Since the site became a National Historic Landmark, the State Historical Society of Iowa has managed and maintained the mounds and the museum.

Location: 6568 Toolesboro Rd. Wapello

Phone: 319-523-8381


  1. Rodney Brunken says:

    Is this site referred to in any of the writings of the early French explorers? La Salle for example? I currently live in California, but grew up in Burlington, Iowa and am interested in native American studies from that region. Thanks, Rod Brunken

  2. I have forwarded your inquiry to the Wapello (Louisa County) group for assistance with this, hopefully you will hear back from them soon.

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