Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Dawn Country

I am currently in the process of reviewing a book of “archaeological fiction” entitled The Dawn Country. The authors, Cathleen O'Neal Gear and her husband, W. Michael Gear, are both professional archaeologists and draw on material from sites they have worked on or visited around the country. This is the second book in this series, the first being, The People of the Longhouse. I will have more for you on this book as I read it! Stay tuned!

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Sunday, March 13, 2011

Archaeology Update

Enterprise 1815
Hello everyone,

         It has been awhile and there is much I want to update all of you on. First, the Monongahela Oral History project is still under full steam. A total of 10 riverworkers, from steamboat captains to deckhands, and even cook have been interviewed! I am always looking for more workers who toiled on the Monongahela River during the age of the steamboat to interview, so let me know if you know of anyone. This oral history project is trying to capture a snapshot of a grossly overlooked period in industrialization and labor in the US, from an often overlooked area, the Mon Valley of Pennsylvania.
     The second project is:
    Brownsville Archaeology Month
May 9-27th, 2011 9am-4pm
Location: Intersection of Bank St. & Prospect St.

     This is the first year for archaeological excavations showcasing the hidden history of Brownsville, Pennsylvania. At one time, this small town was positioned at the very edge of the western frontier, as an endpoint of the National Road. To the west, its only barrier to an unknown land was the northward flowing Monongahela River.
     In 1814 a revolution in transportation took place on the banks of the Monongahela River at Brownsville. The Enterprise, the first steamboat to travel from Brownsville to New Orleans and back under its own power proved that river transportation was a viable alternative to the often dangerous, muddy, and perilous overland roads most people traveled on.
     The Enterprise ushered in a period of steamboat building at Brownsville throughout the 19th century, with Brownsville producing well over 850 boats that traveled up and down the nation's river systems. Brownsville developed a complex system of foundries, engine shops, lumber yards, and boat yards to support the increasing amounts of people, emigrants, goods, and supplies traveling to the newly opened western frontier. During Brownsville Archaeology Month, we hope to uncover a window into this hidden past that lies in plain sight. A crumbling foundation here, and abandoned building there, and a sense that something greater happened in this place we call our community.
      Brownsville Archaeology Month's main focus this year is on the riverworkers, those men and women, white and black who made it their job to transport people and cargo to the many rivertowns in this area and westward. Our focus is a house once owned by a steamboat captain, Captain James Gormley who piloted the Jesse R. Bell in the late 1850's. There is little information on him, but it is our goal as archaeologists to piece together the puzzle of his life.
      The event is open to everyone, anyone who wants to volunteer on the excavation is only required to send an email to Marc Henhaw at The Society for Pennsylvania Archaeology Mon/Yough Chapter #3; the Brownsville Area Revitalization Corporation, Nemacolin Archaeological Services, California University of Pennsylvania, and the Monongahela River, Railroad, and Transportation Museum are sponsoring this event. We hope to bring in K-12th grades from local schools, local organizations, and the general population to learn about Brownsville's once thriving industrial past. Come join us! RSVP by April 29th, 2011.

Marc Henshaw AKA Archeology Dude

Come and join us for some fun in the dirt!

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