Archaeological Investigations of Site 15Ck478 at Lower Howard’s Creek

Project Area Overview for 15Ck478

General overview of the project area, depicting Building C.

Prior to conducting the cultural resource survey in 2007, Cultural Resource Analysts, Inc., had conducted archaeological investigations in the Lower Howard’s Creek Nature and Heritage Preserve intermittently since 1998. Archival research on the valley’s history was completed in 1998 and a pedestrian survey was conducted in 2001 to examine the visible cultural resources in the Lower Howard’s Creek Nature and Heritage Preserve. In 2002, CRA conducted a field school to assess the National Register of Historic Places eligibility of Site 15Ck478. The site was then examined again as part of an archaeological investigation in 2008 to document and assess the archaeological resources in the area prior to the implementation of preservation and restoration activities.

During the first stage of the 2008 investigation, a single 1-x-1-m test unit was excavated on the south side of the gable roof stone structure addition. The results of this test unit excavation, along with the earlier investigations in the vicinity, indicated that this area does not contain intact and significant archaeological deposits. The second area investigated during the first stage was the basement area of the original log cabin structure. Only the top layer of fill was removed since the goal in this area was to document and reconstruct the upper portion of the basement foundation. The results indicated that the uppermost stratum was a single episode deposit with a variety of materials dating from the very early nineteenth century through the first half of the twentieth century. The slump in the doorway to the stone wing addition was also excavated to obtain a profile of the log basement fill.

Building A locale

General overview of the project area depicting Building A locale, facing northeast.

In the second stage of the  project, archaeologists monitored the removal of stone/architectural debris adjacent to the original log cabin structure and between the two stone structure additions by heavy equipment and stone masonry laborers. This was followed by the excavation of five 1-x-1-m test units in this location in order to ascertain whether evidence of a porch was present. Additionally, two test units were excavated within the basement of the stone wing addition to sample the deposits near the hearth; four test units were placed within and directly outside of the outbuilding ruins to ascertain its possible function; and one test unit was excavated on the east end of the gable roof stone structure addition just north of the stone stairs in order to determine whether an intact builder’s trench may be present in that location.

Overview of remains of the north and west walls of Building A.

Overview of remains of the north and west walls of Building A.

The second stage of excavations resulted in the discovery of three subsurface features: Feature 1, the foundation of the former porch adjacent to the original log cabin and between the stone wing addition and the gable roof stone structure addition; Feature 2, stone steps leading down to the outbuilding ruins; and Feature 3, the base of the outbuilding foundation that may have served as an interior flooring sill. The excavation of Feature 1, the porch foundation, indicated that it predates the construction of the gable roof stone structure addition and may be contemporaneous with the original cabin. The test units excavated in the stone wing addition basement supported the results of the first stage of work in the doorway, indicating that the stone wing addition was constructed on bedrock. No builder’s trench was discovered adjacent to the gable roof stone structure addition. The function of the outbuilding could not be ascertained. However, an intact early-nineteenth-century cultural horizon was discovered directly outside of the outbuilding. This indicates that while twentieth-century activities have disturbed many of the nineteenth-century archaeological deposits at the site, intact deposits dating to the early occupation of the site by the Bush family are still present there.

Archaeological investigations at Site 15Ck478 helped to develop an understanding of past lifeways in the Lower Howard’s Creek Nature and Heritage Preservation. Through the investigations, archaeologists were able to determine possible construction dates for buildings and create an idea of what the farmstead may have looked like in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

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