Road Trippin’ with Truda: Fort Ancient Archaeology Tour
Posted May 10, 2024
Yellow block with Road Trippin' with Truda written with the image of a vintage car.

Join me as I visit the sites in the Ohio History Connection network! This month's road trip took me to the Third Friday Archaeology Tour at Fort Ancient Earthworks & Nature Preserve in Oregonia.


Whether you’ve been to Fort Ancient Earthworks many times or are experiencing it for the first time, the Archaeology Tour that site manager Bill Kennedy offers on the third Friday of every month can enrich your visit.

Fort Ancient is one of eight sites that make up the new Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks World Heritage site. The museum tells the story of the Fort Ancient site, as well as all of the ancient Indigenous people of Ohio. The site itself is the largest hilltop enclosure in North America. While the name suggests that this site was used as a defensive structure, evidence shows it was actually a gathering place used for ceremonial purposes.

Not to oversell the tour, but Bill calls it the best tour you’ll ever go on in your life. He has a knack for providing loads of detail in a very engaging way. I’ve taken the tour a few times and always learn something new.


Tour group in the fort ancient museum.

Bill Kennedy giving the greatest tour you’ll ever go on in your life.

Image of a large grassy area with a portion of a large stone circle visible on the ground. With a tree in the background.

The Archaeology Tour includes a walk out to Moorehead Circle.

The Third Friday Archaeology Tour is held at 1 p.m. on the third Friday of each month. Tour admission is free for all Ohio History Connection Members and is general admission for all non-members. Visitors who are planning to attend the tour are asked to stop at the front desk of the museum to purchase tickets prior to tour departure. All tours will begin in the lobby of the museum.

Address: 6123 State Route 350, Oregonia, OH.

How much time: The tour lasts about 60-90 minutes, depending on how many questions people ask. Most of the tour is inside the museum. You’ll spend about 20 minutes or so outside at Moorehead Circle.

For the total time for your visit, you’ll also want to factor in a visit to Fort Ancient’s excellent gift shop and any extra hiking you’d like to do. Be sure to pick up one of the hiking trail maps at the front desk. You could very easily spend an additional 2-3 hours at the site after the tour.

My favorites: I really enjoyed the opportunity to ask questions during the tour. Bill is an excellent teacher and welcomes questions from tour participants. I’m also a big fan of the diorama of the Fort Ancient site. Because the site is so large, it can be hard to fully understand the scale. The diorama solves that problem and gives Bill the ability to point out the alignments, gates and elevations.

Kid Friendly? Yes, for elementary school aged kids and older: Because the tour is fairly long and there’s a lot of standing, I wouldn’t recommend it for very young children. However, older kids would enjoy learning about everyday life in ancient Ohio and getting to see the exhibits in the museum. Bill makes a point of involving kids by asking them questions. Kids would also enjoy the outdoor portion of the tour that takes a look at Moorehead Circle. And, if your child starts to get bored, you can easily peel off the tour and go through the museum and grounds yourself.

People standing over a case that contains a diorama showing the layout of Fort Ancient.

A diorama map of Fort Ancient provides visitors with a great overview of the site.

Lunch:  Depending on the weather and your schedule, there are a couple of options for meals. The site features a lot of picnic tables and a large picnic shelter, so bringing your own food and eating outside is a great option.

Image of a burger with meat, cheese, shredded lettuce, and tomato.

The Rod Burger at the Capricorn Inn is a great way to get fueled up for the Archaeology Tour.

We opted to stop at The Capricorn Inn in Wilmington. My coworker had read some rave reviews about it on the Ohio Road Trips Facebook group (if you haven’t checked out this Facebook group, I would highly recommend that you do. Ohio History Connection is not affiliated with the group—it’s just a great place to learn about and share Ohio travel tips!).

The Capricorn Inn has a great selection of sandwiches, burgers, salads and desserts–all at very reasonable prices. We all ordered the Rod Burger, which is the house specialty. I also noticed that every single one of the other patrons in the restaurant ordered the Rod Burger and I can see why. It was everything you want in a burger: A half pound smashburger with plenty of toppings and cheese. We also ordered sides of fries and fried mushrooms to share. We had a lot of food and left very happy. The Capricorn Inn also has a nice kids menu, clean restrooms and plenty of parking. I would definitely go back. Next time I want to try their peanut butter pie.

Truda's Tips: My tip this month is not specifically about Fort Ancient, but more about road tripping in general. Be sure to keep your eyes open during your journey. If you’re looking at your phone during the drive, you’ll miss out on a lot of interesting sights! I was reminded of this during this trip to Fort Ancient. We were driving from the Capricorn Inn in Wilmington to Fort Ancient and my coworker said, “Hey, I think I just saw a kangaroo!” I thought maybe he’d had one too many fried mushrooms during lunch, but I offered to turn the car around to investigate. And what do you know? He had actually seen a wallaby and an emu at a farm along our route. You never know what you might see in the small towns and back roads of Ohio!

For more information: To learn more about Fort Ancient Earthworks & Nature Preserve, you can visit our website.

The National Afro-American Museum & Cultural Center, another Ohio History Connection site, is about 30 minutes away in Wilberforce. For more information about this great museum, click here.

If you’d like to learn all about the sites that make up the Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks, you can click here.

Want to make a day of it? Discover everything Warren County has to offer at Ohio’s Largest Playground.


Ohio History Connection members enjoy free general admission to Fort Ancient Earthworks & Nature Preserve, as well as our 50+ other historic sites and museums. Visit to become a member!

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