Caddo Archeology Journal




Cavanaugh Mound (3SB3, also known as Etter's Mound, Jones Mound, Site Zeta, and occasionally misspelled Cavenaugh) is a largely intact Late Prehistoric platform mound on the Arkansas River just east of the Oklahoma border, about 14 km from the Spiro Mounds complex. The site is situated on a high terrace above the Arkansas River as it runs between the Ouachita Mountains to the south and the Ozarks to the north. The Poteau River enters the Arkansas River floodplain just west of Cavanaugh, creating one of the widest stretches of bottomland in the region. The area immediately around Cavanaugh Mound is now a residential neighborhood in the city of Fort Smith, and the mound itself is in a tiny lot with a church to the south, a trailer park to the east (named Indian Mounds Trailer Park), and a row of houses to the west. At about 60 m across and 9 m high, Cavanaugh Mound is one of the largest, if not the largest, prehistoric mound in the region. Very little has been published concerning this site, however, and very little formal archeological work has been done there.

This article is partly intended to call attention to Cavanaugh Mound, and to compile all reports and descriptions of the mound in one publication. The first part of the article is therefore mostly descriptive. I also offer some tentative interpretations of the site and its possible relationship to the nearby Spiro and Skidgel sites. The size , shape, and stratigraphy of the mound all indicate that it was constructed and used in a manner similar to other Caddoan era platform mounds in the Arkansas River valley. The mound appears to be alone on the landscape, not connected to a group of surrounding mounds and not located within or near a contemporaneous settlement. It overlooks the Poteau/ Arkansas River bottoms to the west and was probably visible from both the Spiro and Skidgel sites in prehistoric times.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License



Tell us how this article helped you.


To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.