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Hontoon Island

Freshwater shell middens are found throughout Hontoon Island along the shorelines. The best example - located on the west side - can be reached by a park trail.

At the walk's end is a large shell mound, nearly 30 feet high and 200 feet long. Excavations at inundated portions of the site have turned up spectacular cultural materials dating from the early St. Johns period (about 1 A.D.) to the late 1700s. These items include the remains of 48 animal and 28 plant species taken by prehistoric people at Hontoon Island. Other finds - also preserved in the mound's shell mass and organic peat - include bone pins and awls, adzed wood, and a broken dugout canoe paddle. Close by, the St. Johns River itself has yielded amazing carved totems, and just upstream lies the Thursby Mound.

Located in the Hontoon Island State Park on the St. Johns River. From S.R. 44 west of DeLand, take Old New York Avenue 1.5 miles to Hontoon Road. Go south on Hontoon Road 2.5 miles to River Ridge Road, then proceed on River Ridge one mile to the state's parking area. Free ferry service is offered to the island, where the primary midden site lies at the end of a 1.2-mile nature trail. Bring insect repellent during warm-weather months.

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