I was joking when I started belting out “Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah” as we made our way through Bluebird Trail Sunday afternoon at Copper Culture State Park.

Then, darned if the little buggers didn’t start swooping overhead.

“Hey look,” I said. “Mr. Bluebird’s on your shoulder!”

We looked up and saw those pretty little birds flying everywhere.

My oh my, what a wonderful day!

Vince and I decided to check out Copper Culture State Park after we read a little about its history. Discovered in 1952 by 13-year old Daniel Baldwin, the Copper Culture burial mounds contain artifacts and relics dating as far back as 7,510 years. As the Wisconsin DNR’s website points out, that makes them older than the Egyptian pyramids. It is the oldest known burial site in Wisconsin and one of the oldest in North America.

Located on the west edge of Oconto, the land around Copper Culture State Park was part the Menominee Indians’ ancestral home. Thousands of years ago, they made copper artifacts like bracelets, spear points, fishing hooks, knives and other tools. Accidentally unearthed during a gravel quarrying project back in the 1920s, the mounds contained all of these items and more.

We paused for a moment of reverence where we thought the mounds might have been. Operating without a map and, apparently, also without a sense of direction though, we really weren’t sure.

The whole park only covers 42 acres, but we still managed to get lost twice and veer off the trails a humiliating two more times.

I imagine, on a quiet summer day, you might summon the spirits of the industrious people who had built their home along those hallowed grounds so many years ago, as you walked along the wooded paths. Having seen a sign that warned of a honeybees hive in the tree right at the beginning of the park trails, however, I found myself in more of a Walt Disney mood and I sang every now and then as we made our way through.

Next time we go, I intend to follow the right path and celebrate the site’s amazing history. I’ll start with the Copper Culture Museum, which was closed for the season, and I’ll pay homage to the sacred burial site located inside the park.

On this day, though, with the always unexpected delight of a warm April sky above, we just had fun. We hiked, I sang, and we enjoyed our first picnic lunch of the season on one of the many tables scattered throughout the park.

It’s the truth

It’s actual

Everything is satisfactual.

Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah,  Zip-a-dee-ay.

I’m pretty happy. Summer’s coming out way.

The battery died on my borrowed camera and I wasn’t able to pull out my cellphone in time to capture the actual bluebirds (They’re speedy little devils!), but I can tell you that Bluebird Trail is full of actual bluebirds (and that we walked right out of the park and on to a road when we followed Bluebird Trail) It was the second of several mishaps.
I was admiring the cool, snake-like roots of the trees along the river path when…
…we saw this No Trespassing sign and realized we had wandered on to private property. We doubled-back and…
Vince took the lower path and I took the higher one, which inspired me to take this picture and, naturally, to sing the Bonny Bonny Banks of Loch Lomond. Obviously.
When we weren’t lost, and I wasn’t singing, it was easy to imagine the age-old footsteps that predated our stroll.
I saw this sign and I had Walt Disney buzzing around my head all afternoon.
Just after we successfully navigated this path over the Oconto River, we got lost again. We turned around and headed right back over it.
Next time we go, we intend to explore this area of the park, the Copper Culture Indian Cemeteries, which date back to 5556 B.C. As state parks go, Copper Culture is pretty small, but the trails apparently extend into and around Oconto. It’s a nice pit stop located right off Highway 22 and admission is free –no vehicle admission sticker required.






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