Rockwell Mound is located on North Orange Street near the Optimist Pool. Just north of the park is a playground and a couple of shelters where you can relax and watch your kids play.
At first glance, Rockwell Park seems like just another place to pass the time of day, have a picnic, or where children can play when they’re not swimming in the Havana Park District pool. Rockwell Park also has a place in human history that date back much further in time than its establishment as a park in 1849.
The park has been used for a variety of community events. The large hill was ideal for public speaking and was the site of a speech by Stephen A. Douglas on August 13. 1858, just before the famous Lincoln-Douglas U.S. Senate campaign debates. Abraham Lincoln arrived at the Havana riverfront by steamboat during Douglas’ speech and spoke here at the Rockwell park the following day.
Although Rockwell Park has long been a source of local history and pride its more ancient significance was not confirmed until 1986. The large hill that covers most of the park is no ordinary hill, but was constructed by Native Americans around 2,000 years ago and is one of the largest mounds ever built in the Illinois River basin. A visit to Rockwell Mound is a visit back 2,000 years to the Middle Woodland cultural period of Illinois prehistoric peoples of the Illinois River Valley, and one of the richest archaeological regions in the country.
The people who built Rockwell Mound were part of the Hopewell Culture that occurred in the North American mid-continent at a number of riverine locations. They had an ordered society rich in symbolism and ceremony. Hopewell people built mounds for the burial of honored dead and engaged in elaborate funerary practices. A building of a mound would have been a tremendous undertaking. An estimated 1,760,000 baskets full of earth went into the construction of the Rockwell mound. The Hopewell also participated in a network of long distance trade of finished goods, and raw materials that distributed exotic materials such as obsidean, grizzly bear teeth, copper, lead, and marine shell.
As it stands today, Rockwell Mound is the second largest Indian mound in the Midwest, covering nearly two acres and standing fourteen feet high. The mound has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1987.