Photograph showing a mountain lion effigy pipe recovered during the excavation of Tremper Mound, 1915.
Tremper Mound is located near the confluence of the Scioto River and Pond Creek in Rush Township, Scioto County, Ohio. The mound, originally surrounded by a low, sub-rectangular embankment, is large and irregularly shaped, and early on was thought by some observers to be in the form of an animal. William C. Mills excavated the mound in 1915 and discovered that it had actually been constructed over the remains of a large wooden post structure with several side chambers, giving the mound its unusual outline. In one of these chambers Mills recovered over 500 objects diagnostic of the Hopewell Culture (100 BC - AD 400), most of which had been “killed” or purposely broken.
This number included 136 smoking pipes of various styles carved from a soft stone known as pipestone. Some pipes portrayed zoomorphic (animal-like) forms that were created so exactingly that different species of the same animal can be discerned. They are considered true works of art. Many of these pipes have been restored and are presently on display at the Ohio History Center in Columbus. A similar cache of pipes was excavated from Mound 8 at Mound City in the mid-1800s but was later sold to the British Museum. Because Tremper Mound is just west of the main deposit of Ohio Pipestone, this was long thought to be the source material for the entire Tremper cache. However, recent non-destructive testing indicates that in addition to Ohio Pipestone, Catlinite from Minnesota and Sterling Pipestone from Illinois were also used