Visit to the Franks Site, an Erie Village

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The Franks Site, encompassing some eighty acres of land along the scenic high banks of the Vermilion River in Brownhelm and Vermilion, Ohio was a somewhat densely populated area hundreds and even thousands of years ago.  In the early 1940s, Col. Raymond C. Vietzen of the Indian Ridge Museum in Elyria, acted as the archaeological site supervisor when Oberlin College students excavated this site.  Col. Vietzen also worked on the site for many years with his own excavation team.  A few of his seventeen books highlight this particular site, which he termed as an “Erie village” because of the vast landscape that the site encompassed and also the fact that it was inhabited for a protracted period of time.  The late prehistoric people known as the Eries, who maintained settled village sites, would have called this place home, until they were defeated during the “Beaver Wars” by the group of Iroquois nations about 1654.  After that, Northern Ohio was essentially a hunting ground with no settled village sites – a land often referred to as being “hunted over by many but owned by none.”

Col. Vietzen’s work unearthed habitation sites throughout this area, and we would direct you to his publications, such as, “The Immortal Eries” and “Ancient Man in Northern Ohio” to learn more about those people who once lived here and the artifacts they left behind.  Some of these artifacts are now preserved locally at the New Indian Ridge Museum.

Col. Nahorn recently showed an associate of the Museum, Vito Cammarata and another gentleman, to a portion of this site, along the Vermilion River.  Vito, of West River Paddle Sports (Vermilion River) is a kayak consultant at the New Indian Ridge Museum.  On May 8, 2015, after having completed a tour of the Vermilion River in kayaks, Col. Nahorn showed the two gentlemen to a portion of the Franks Site.  Interestingly, this view is nearly identical to a photograph that appears in Col. Vietzen’s 1940s publication highlighting the site itself.  Thanks to Vito for his unique photography skills in capturing this “then and now” moment.

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