It was a great day in the field today, the kind of day that ends too quickly. I know things are starting to go well in the field when I am already excited for the next work day by the time we have to leave.
We opened a third test unit in the front of the plot to look for architectural features. One of our goals for the project is to learn about the building methods employed on the housing. With so many different shapes and sizes of housing apparent in the footprints visible on historic maps of this neighborhood, we can only imagine the variety of materials employed across time. Based on a historic map, we placed the unit on a spot that might catch a building corner. After about seven tenths of foot below ground we found a large piece of flat concrete. A few more tenths of a foot and we came down on a complete concrete pad that must have been poured over a portion of the back yard of the house.
If we are lucky, a historic yard surface may be preserved below the cracked concrete surface. Tomorrow we will look below the concrete by digging into the top northwest corner of the unit, which would have been in an alley on the west most edge of the property line.
In Unit 1, we excavated below a layer of rubble at the back of the house, and have found the majority of artifacts here. See the picture below. The ground is quite bumpy here and I suspect an outbuilding of some sort may be here, but it is too early to tell. Check out the perfume bottle stopper in the photo below:
In Unit 2 we are just punching through a thick fill layer of reddish clayey soils. Below that is a darker strata of coal ash mixed with artifacts. Can’t wait to see what’s below.
We had a number of visitors to the site, including a number of folks from the neighboring households. Halfway through the day, Ann from down the street dropped off a bag of warm cookies at the slowest moment of the post-lunch afternoon. What a treat!
At the end of the day, Josh, who has kept us company throughout the week and answered our many questions about the neighborhood, took us on a tour of the mine strippings just on the edge of town. I was curious to see how close the Canal Street Site is to our present location. I was amazed to see how deep the base of the strippings were, and how tiny the red shovel at the base of it looked from up top.
As I stared down in the enormous chasm I could only imagine, hanging in that empty space, the network of shafts, drifts and slopes that used to trace the coal veins, dug by hand by the men of Lattimer and Pardeesville!