In 1929, Emerson F. Greenman of the Ohio Historical Society described the Reeve Site as being in “Willoughby Township, Lake County, one quarter of a mile south of the mouth of the Chagrin River, about thirty-five feet above the east side of the river.”
Over a period of many years, small excavations took place just west of what is now Eastlake Middle School, and in 1973 the Site was sold to build the Marine Park Condominiums.
As is typical with many older archaeological sites, many artifacts were found during bulldozing, and so, many were also lost. Amateur archaeologists and local historians saved what they could, and in 1978 founded the idea of an Indian Museum. The Indian Museum of Lake County opened in 1980 and displayed prehistoric artifacts of Northeastern Ohio, the Native American culture of the Ohio area, and crafts of all Native American cultures throughout the North American continent.
Still going strong today, the Indian Museum of Lake County welcomes tours and children’s groups to its site in downtown Willoughby. Follow the signs, and park in the back of the technical building.
You start your tour by first trying to ignore the beautiful items in the gift shop until the end of your visit, and by walking through the artifacts found in the Reeve Village Site in Eastlake. The collection boasts the largest collection of Native American pipes (at over 200!!) next to the British Museum in London.
Then, you continue through the museum exploring artifacts from tribes around Ohio, then moving into the Plains, Southwest, Pacific Northwest, and Inuit. Try your hand at grinding corn, or mistake the giant feathered piece on the wall for a headdress when, in actuality, it is a male bustle. Not that I made that mistake myself…
There are a variety of research books and information guides throughout the museum, and on occasion, cultural ceremonies, artifact identification workshops, and drumming occurs.
The Indian Museum of Lake County does accept donations, both monetary and artifacts. Please visit them to learn more about the objects you found in your backyard, or to learn about the Native Americans that once inhabited this land!