Arbor Day event observes time of renewal at Caddo Mounds

The site was severely damaged by a powerful tornado in April of 2019.
Published: Nov. 5, 2021 at 6:44 PM CDT
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ALTO, Texas (KTRE) - Arbor Day was observed today at Caddo Mounds State Historic Site west of Alto. The event provided renewal from the 2019 tornado which caused loss of life, injuries, and property destruction.

“This is a way of getting trees back into this space,” said site manage Tony Souther at the start of several tree plantings.

Thousands of trees were uprooted across Cherokee County from a tornado in April 2019. The replacement of shade trees at Caddo Mounds is just one form of recovery.

“And for the Caddo as well. The trees are sacred,” said Rachel Galan, assistant site manager.

The regrowth at Caddo Mounds burial grounds takes on a spiritual meaning, even if it involves brick and mortar.

Souther proudly showed off the new museum flanked by the walls only. It’s a significant transformation from a leveled building.

Souther said the site has endured Covid-19 shutdowns, weather delays and now supply shortages.

“This time next year, I’m actually scheduling a re-opening event. Who knows, maybe everything I need is going to be right where it needs to be, when it needs to be,” said Souther.

Aside from the rebuilding of the museum there’s another project going on -- the construction of the grass house.

Tornado survivors lead the grass house project.

”We will start probably in January collecting grass,” said Jeff Williams.

Williams was blown from the grass house during the tornado and suffered serious injuries. He’s now president of Friends of Caddo Mounds.

“We have to harvest the switch grass. We’re cutting and collecting willow that goes for the lathing,” he said.

Friends of Caddo Mounds’ vice-president Victor Galan helped with the first grass house. After life-changing injuries he sustained in the tornado looks he looks forward to helping a second time.

“Rebuilding the grass house motivates me. I want to be out here as much as I can,” said Galan who is now wheelchair bound. “Rebuilding the grass house will be a great teaching tool,” said the archeologist. “I’m really looking forward to it. And I want to give more tours out here, like I did before.”

Galan speaks of the Caddo perseverance. Undoubtedly, it’s an incentive for growth in so many ways.

Donations and volunteer labor are needed for the grass house. Another goal is to seek a benefactor to kick start the construction of an education center. Information on how to help can be found in the Big Red Box.

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