Mashantucket Pequot Museum

Another Day in Transportation Archaeology

It’s a rainy day here in Connecticut, but that’s not going to stop me from heading out into the “field.”  Not much has changed since my 2012 post.  I am still employed at the Connecticut Department of Transportation reviewing projects for impacts to archaeological and historic resources, and I am still the Connecticut Archaeology Awareness Month Coordinator.

Working in cultural resource management for a state agency is a balancing act.  There are so many transportation projects in the works and only a few people on staff to review them.  One of the things I find most challenging is keeping all of our engineers happy and their projects moving forward while also preserving as many cultural resources as possible.  Everyone’s budget is tight these days, everyone has their own set of priorities, and it’s my job to remind everyone that consideration of cultural resources is a value to the public (and required by federal and state laws).

Today my job included the review of a Phase I Archaeological Assessment and Reconnaissance survey report completed by one of our on-call consultants, the review of a project area in Pomfret, CT to assess the archaeological sensitivity of the soils around a bridge that is proposed to be replaced, a visit to a construction site in Waterford, CT where a bridge is being replaced, and a visit to Old Saybrook to visit my old friends from the Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Center.

The project area in Pomfret abuts the historic South Cemetery.  Though the Cemetery will not be directly impacted by the bridge replacement, a temporary utility pole will be installed on the property.  Because this is a project partially funded by the Federal Highway Administration the eligibility of South Cemetery for the National Register of Historic Places will need to be determined to establish whether or not this is a Section 4(f) property in regards to the Department of Transportation Act.  If the Cemetery is deemed eligible the appropriate documentation of the impacts of the use of the property will need to be completed.

South Cemetery in Pomfret, CT

South Cemetery in Pomfret, CT

 

There were no concerns about the archaeological sensitivity of the project area.  There was plenty of evidence of erosion, disturbance, and filling around the bridge, likely associated with flooding events of the Wappoquia Brook.

Disturbance along the roadside  at the proposed bridge replacement in Pomfret, CT

 

I stopped by a bridge replacement project in Waterford, CT that I have been monitoring since I began this job last summmer.  There was a Native burial discovered upstream from the bridge decades ago, and the consulting tribes had some concern about any potentially undisturbed soils in the project area.  I check in with the engineer and contractor whenever there is any kind of excavation on site.  So far the entire project area has disturbed soils with a lot of volkswagon parts.

 

Bridge construction on RT 1 in Waterford, CT

Bridge construction on RT 1 in Waterford, CT

 

The Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Center has funding from the National Park Service’s American Battlefield Protection Program Grant for the Battlefields of the Pequot War project (http://pequotwar.org/).  Currently they are surveying in Old Saybrook, CT and finding evidence of a skirmish between the English, who had a fort at Saybrook Point, and the Pequot.  Today Dave Naumec, senior researcher, found a musket ball!  The Pequot Museum is doing fascinating, ground-breaking work!

 

Dave Naumec finds a musket ball in Old Saybrook, CT

Dave Naumec finds a musket ball in Old Saybrook, CT

Pequot War era musket ball found in Old Saybrook, CT

Pequot War era musket ball found in Old Saybrook, CT

 

Outside of my paying job I have my volunteer responsibilities.  As the CT Archaeology Awareness Month Coordinator I am once again helping to organize an Archaeology Fair.  This year’s Fair is scheduled for October 19th in Wethersfield, CT (shameless plug).  Fortunately, this year I have a Committee of volunteers assisting in the planning of the Fair.  Today I’m sorting out the logistics of having the Fair flyer finalized, printed, and distributed.

That sums up my Day of Archaeology.  See you next year!