Visit the largest temple mound in the Tampa Bay area, overlooking the scenic Manatee River. This place has witnessed extensive human use for over 4500 years. The most striking evidence is the 1200 year old temple mound and surrounding village middens.
Emerson Point has a special location at the mouth of the Manatee River where it meets Lower Tampa Bay. Explore the preserve's unique history and wander the shady trails through the tropical hammock. This 365 acre state-owned, county-managed preserve is located at the west end of Snead Island, west of Palmetto in Manatee County, Florida. Visitors can take in the beauty of Florida's wildlife and native plant communities while exploring both prehistoric and historic sites. Historical resources include the Portavant Temple Mound, southwest Florida's largest Native American Temple Mound, and the surrounding midden complex.
The Portavant Mound (or Snead Island Temple Mound) is one of fifteen or more "temple mounds" produced by the Safety Harbor culture (900-1725) found in the vicinity of Tampa Bay. The mound is four meters high, measures 45 m by 75 m at the base, and has a flat top that is 24 m by 46 m. Unlike other "temple mounds" around the Tampa Bay area, the Portavant Mound does not have a ramp to the top of the mound. There is a lower (one m high) platform, about 30 m by 30 m, that abuts the main mound. The Portavant Mound was made from soil mixed with debris from middens. Several other mounds, also consisting of soil mixed with midden debris, are near the "temple mound".
Interpretive signs describe the lifeways of ancient inhabitants as well as subsequent Florida pioneers. Several historic home sites, occupied from the late 1800s to the 1960s, can be found along the Pioneer and restoration trails, including one site located on top of the Temple Mound. The Preserve contains a variety of native ecosystems including beaches, lagoons, salt marshes, mangrove swamps, extensive underwater grass flats, tropical hardwood hammocks, coastal strands, and upland wooded areas.
page information credit: Manatee County Parks & Recreation, Florida Department of Historical Resources,
(Luer, George M.; Marion M. Almy (September 1981). "Temple Mounds of the Tampa Bay Area". The Florida Anthropologist. 34 (3): 128, 134. Retrieved 20 April 2012.)
photos from the sources listed above, as well as publicly posted online sites with thanks to the contributors