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Conservation Groups Successfully Save Ross County Earthworks

A Tuesday evening auction decided the future of the earthworks up for sale. See the result.

A conservation group successfully purchased ancient ruins on the auction block in Ross County Tuesday night.

The plot of land up for auction is known as the Junction Group.   It holds a number of earthworks, created thousands of years ago,below the surface.

335 acres, split into 6 plots and sold on the auction block.  But the bidding war started well before the auctioneer began rattling off numbers.

"We had to pay dearly tonight but we bought the land back," said conservationist Nancy Stranahan.

The price kept going higher.  Word was developers wanted to scoop up the land but a conservancy coalition wasn't backing down.  They picked up the majority of the acres. 

"It's a burial ground, there's Native American people on this ground, there's heritage, there's history," said Stranahan.

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The Stark family farm is home to several Native American earthworks. 

The conservancy group got wind just two weeks ago the farm was going up for auction. 

They started a social media campaign to raise money.

"I think the average was $5700 an acre and we bought 193 acres," said Stranahan.

That's more than $1 million.

"Our goal, which we succeeded in doing this, is going to be an enduring park for Chillicothe and the state forever," said Stranahan.

A farmer grabbed the next largest plot.  He's been working the land for the family since 1992.

"I'm in it for one reason, they're in it for another.  Sad part is, when they buy property, there's no more revenue from it, tax from it, that's the downfall," said farmer Dave Williams.

The Stark family watched it all go down and they're thrilled.

"Everything went just the way we hoped," said Barbara Stark Herlihy.