For centuries, humans have lived in Putnam County. The most evidence of that lies in two unique areas within the county, Rock Eagle and Rock Hawk effigies. This style of mound is not found anywhere else East of the Mississippi River. Both of these sacred grounds hold little explanation as to their purpose, and they are held with the upmost respect and careful preservation in honor of the peoples who constructed them.
Most likely constructed during the Middle Woodland Period (100- 300 A.D.), Rock Eagle was built to 8 feet high and stretched over 100 feet in both width and length. The mound is located in the northern part of Putnam County, on one of the highest points in Putnam County. The purpose of the structure is not obvious to modern archeologists as there is little indication it is built atop of any significant deposit of items. It’s official presumed use is a burial site for members of the community that once lived around it.
During the Great Depression, the Civilian Conservation Corps restored the mound and constructed the stone observation tower that visitors use to get a better view of the mounds. Today, the effigy is maintained by Georgia 4-H as they have built an extensive conference center used for youth camps and lifelong learning to better educate people from across the United States about the area and the significance of understanding the environment.
Assumed to have been built during a similar time period, Rock Hawk Effigy Mound is located in southwestern Putnam County at another high point in the county. Rock Hawk most likely had the same origin as Rock Eagle, but it looks much different to visitors today. The effigy itself has been left to time to make its impressions as it pleases without restoration.
Today, the effigy is surrounded by a handful of walking or biking trails totaling miles of preserved wooded areas near Lake Oconee. In addition to the trails, there are many learning opportunities including multiple signs with historic information of Putnam County and surrounding areas. Similar to Rock Eagle, there is also an observation tower for convenient viewing of the monument.