Cultural Resource Inventory on Reclamation Property in and around the Pueblo Reservoir in Colorado

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Overview of the Pueblo Reservoir.

Overview of the Pueblo Reservoir.

In June of 2006, the United States Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) solicited a requirement under Section 110 of the National Historic Preservation Act to conduct a Class III cultural resource inventory on Reclamation property in and around Pueblo Reservoir, including Lake Pueblo State Park and the adjacent State Wildlife Area. Of particular importance to Reclamation, was the low water investigation of the pool area of Pueblo Reservoir for previously identified or new cultural resources and determine the current condition of these resources.

The reservoir area was previously surveyed in the mid-1960s by the University of Denver (DU) for the Fryingpan-Arkansas Project. The previous inventory located 128 sites but was limited in scope to only prehistoric properties. Between November 2006 and September 2009, CRA crews conducted an intensive Class III cultural resource inventory on 13,833 acres; 2,020 acres of which were located within the pool area of Pueblo Reservoir. During this time, CRA located 67 new sites, 89 isolated finds, and re-evaluated 26 previously recorded cultural resources. Prehistoric site types primarily included open camps and lithic scatters.

Projectile Point from Site 5PE349.

Projectile Point from Site 5PE349.

One site of particular interest, 5PE349, was first recorded and excavated in the 1960s by the University of Denver, dated to the Diversification period, Apishapa Phase (A.D. 1050 – 1450) that exhibit eastern Plains Village influences. The site consisted of seven features or house structures that exhibited circular patterns based on posthole placements. Hearths and storage pits were found in association with the features. These features were excavated by DU and artifacts were located that included projectile points, bifaces, ceramics, ground stone, and bone tools. CRA recorded what remained of the site and incorporated the earlier results into the new site form.

Historic sites include predominately early-twentieth-century historic artifact scatters, water conveyance features such as ditches and canals, quarries, railroad grades, and roads. Important historical resources encountered include The Arkansas Valley Conduit, an early-twentieth-century industrial water supply canal for the Colorado Fuel & Iron Company in nearby Pueblo that extends along the southern portion of the project area. The remains of the town of Swallows were located within the project area. The town, established as an agricultural community in the late 1800s, was demolished in 1967 for the construction of the Pueblo Reservoir. Many historic limestone quarries were located along the terraces during the course of the inventory. Two abandoned railroad grades from the Denver & Rio Grande and the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe lines were located as well as segments of old Highway 96, now underwater of the reservoir.

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