Thursday, October 29, 2009

Long Island New York Grist Mill

Hello Everyone!

I just got back from a trip to Long Island, New York to visit relatives who live in Port Jefferson. Port Jefferson is located on the northern shores of Long Island, and is primarily used as a ferry port to Connecticut via the Long Island Sound.

Long Island has a long history of industrialization including canning for its once thriving fishing industry. However, some of the best early examples of industrialization on the island are represented by the many water powered grist mills located in the small hamlets nestled around the various inlets along the coast.

This particular mill I visited was in a small village called Stony Brook. Built in 1751, the grist mill sits against its mill dam (that was widened and reinforced for car traffic) forming an extensive mill pond. The links I have posted here will give additional information on the mill, it was closed the day I arrived there.

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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Current Side Quest

Hi All!

I just wanted to share with all of you a little side project I'm delving into. In my home town, Brownsville, PA, we have had many firsts. We had the first toll road in the United States, the National Road (Route 40), we had the first cast iron bridge, the Dunlap Creek Bridge, we have the oldest market district west of the Appalachia Mountains, we had the first house built with wooden shingles west of those mountains. We also had another first, one that stands in the back of the minds when we think of the golden age of transportation, especially river transportation. I'm thinking of the steamboat. No we didn't build the first steamboat. Instead we made it better.

Henry Shreve (for which Shreveport Louisiana is named) lived in Brownsville and a man by the name of Daniel French. They made the steamboat better, by tailoring the vessel to the inland water ways and foregoing the sea going designs of the 18th century. So where lies the first? We built the first steamboat that traveled from the Monongahela Valley, up to Pittsburgh (Monongahela River flows north) and down the Ohio River to the Mississippi River to New Orleans and return under its own power in 1814. The boat was named Enterprise, and this new technology revolutionized the way people and goods were transported.

The side quest of mine just happened to have taken me to the front door of the house where these men first created the Monongahela Steamboat Company along with Elisha D. Hunt, Robert Rodgers, and Elijah Clark. I have found the birth place of this enterprise, called the Bridgeport Manufacturing Company's Cotton Factory. And it is scheduled for demolition.

More on this to come...
The building is the white structure between the fork in the roads with the three trees in the front.

(From 1883 Birds Eye View map of Brownsville- Library of Congress)

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Monday, October 19, 2009

Angel Sit Part 3: Site Stratigraphy.

Hi Everyone,

This is the third part of my continuing series on excavations at the Father Angel Site in Greene County, Pennsylvania. This part examines a concept borrowed from geology called STRATIGRAPHY. Basically, stratigraphy is layers built upon layers. Much like a wedding cake if you slice into it, you'll see a layer of cake, a layer of icing, maybe a layer of chocolate, and then another layer of cake and so on. The Earth's crust is formed in a similar way, with layer upon layer of rock built one on top of the other. So what does this have to do with archaeology? Well, archaeological sites are created in the same way. Depending on where the site is located, it may have many layers like if it were on a floodplain, or just a few layers like out in a farmer's field.

So why is stratigraphy important? To start off, let's imagine a trashcan. I throw a piece of crumpled up paper into it, and over the next few weeks, I fill it up. Then I realize that a piece of paper I threw in that first week was an important bill! Where in the trashcan would I look? Not at the top of the pile, those papers are very recent. Not in the middle either, while they're old my bill was from a week before those papers were thrown in. I would dig to the very bottom of the can because that's where the oldest pieces of paper are located. So the stratigraphy of the papers in the trashcan led me to my bill, because I knew that the oldest pieces of paper were on the bottom. This is the LAW OF SUPERPOSITION. Layers are deposited in a sequence of youngest to oldest be they sedimentary rock layers or cultural layers containing artifacts.

In this video, I'm talking about the stratigraphy of the Father Angel Site. Please turn up the volume on you speakers! For some reason, the audio is very soft!

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Sunday, October 18, 2009

I'm Back!

Hi All!

It's been a while since I've posted on here but I now have a new update! I was busy on a Phase I survey in Greene County, Pennsylvania on some game lands for the building of a new wetland area. When a state agency such as Penndot, Game Commission, or other state funded agency has to destroy a wetland, another one has to be constructed. So as an archaeologist, my crew and I were contracted to see what types of cultural resources (artifacts) might be hidden beneath the floodplain soils.

In order to accomplish this, we used a series of interesting people and gadgets to get the job done. One of these specialists, a GEOMORPHOLOGIST, or PEDOLOGIST, came out to our site to have a look at the many layers of soil that were deposited during the past several thousand years of flooding. These scientists study the the composition, age, and origin of soils. Plus they can tell us if a soil layer is young enough to have artifacts or too old before humans were on the North American continent.
The second type of specialist we used was a ZOOARCHAEOLOGIST. A zooarchaeologist study the remains from animals that are found on archaeological sites. While completing our Phase I survey, we came across teeth from a bovid type animal (cow, bison, ox) buried at 90cm. These teeth needed to be identified, so we sent them to a zooarchaeological specialist who came back with the disappointing conclusion that they were in fact from a cow! The cow must have died on the banks of the nearby creek and its body silted in during subsequent flood events.

One cool piece of equipment that we played with out there was a ground penetrating radar or GRP for short. This machine looks like a push lawn mower that is pushed or pulled over the ground in strait tight rows. The radar moved through the soil layers and dependent on what those layers are made from, or if they have been disturbed by human activity, the waves from the radio take more or less time to be reflected back to the machine. This produces a wavy pattern on the readout display that for someone that is trained, can see the outline of a grave or ditch as compared to just regular undisturbed soil.

Well I hope you had an informative read, I promise to update more regularly now that I'm out of the field so check back for more!

(In this photo: Dave Kroskie starting a 1X2 and Susan Balint [my girlfriend] screening for artifacts)
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