Stroll through Aztalan State Park in south central Wisconsin, with only a small child as a companion, and you can’t help but notice unassuming signboards and markers.
Some speculate (on scanty bone evidence) that they practiced cannibalism.
These people, who seem more related to the Aztec tribes than any found in northern America, showed up (from where? no one knows) around 900 AD. and then, a few hundred years later, just…disappeared. No one knows where or why. Did the Little Ice Age of about 1300 make growing crops difficult? Were their stockades inadequate protection against enemies? Did disease ravage the community? Or did they just want to leave?
We don’t know. They left nothing behind except what can be found in the acres now called Aztalan. They are not part of any oral tradition of any other Wisconsin tribes. Archeologists and people like me, who love history and mysteries more than we enjoy swarming multitudes of fellow tourists, hang out at places like Aztalan. Along with one small grandchild.
If you go:
Aztalan State Park is in the Town of Aztalan, (near Lake Mills, Wisconsin) on the east side of Jefferson County Highway Q, just south of County Highway B. Coming from the west on Interstate Highway 94, reach County B by going south on State Highway 89 to Lake Mills. Coming from the east on I-94, take State Highway 26 south to Johnson Creek to County Highway B.
It is open year-round from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.