- Thursday, 05 August 2010 20:04
Red Canyon Ranch is unsettlingly quiet. We watched the Indiana University field crew pack up yesterday and drive off into the sunset. Well, all right, they’re headed east for Indiana. Technically they had sunset in the rearview mirror.
Walking down to the guest house today, the only sounds were the birds, the rattle of the cottonwood leaves, and uh, that’s it. Nothing else. No laughter, no chatter, no colorful pin flags on the Nostrum stage station. The porch chairs were empty when I walked into the yard. Inside the house, the computers were gone, the kitchen clean and lonely. Piles of screens, containers, bedrolls, and the other minutia of life in the field were nowhere to be seen.
Walking up to the stock pond, the magic carp was flipping around the bottom, searching here and there, wondering what had happened to the arky raft. Somehow he’d never noticed when it became part of his world, but it’s sure as hell missing now. On the way back to the house a rattlesnake slithered away into the grass apparently happy to have tranquility restored. Now that the people were gone, he was hoping for good hunting given all the mice the archaeologists had lured in with dropped crumbs, cookies, and the occasional overlooked plate.
So it is with sadness that the 2010 field season has drawn to a close at Red Canyon Ranch. What’s the big news? Katie’s crew, aided by Matt’s human backhoe action, located the floor of the Southwest room in the Nostrum Stage Station. It was made of sawn planks and buried under almost four feet of collapsed roof and overburden. We’ve taken samples from the planks and will have Paleoresearch Associates identify it. In the center of the room the crew located a huge stump set in the floor–probably an anvil stand. Given that the place was a stage station, they had to have a place to shape and fit horse shoes.
The trash midden produced another oddity: an unfired 7.62 x 53R Russian military cartridge with a 1917 Remington head stamp. Nearly 300,000 Winchester 1895 muskets were shipped off to the Czar just before WWI, with additional civilian sales of the rifle and cartridge in the U.S. Most likely this was one. It’s kind of cool to think that someone with a model 95 in 7.62 Russian used to live here.
In addition, the creekside tipi rings were fully mapped and tested. Dr. Scheiber’s team proved that we have two stone circles down there–and best of all, they’re historic! Not only was a broken pair of scissors recovered from inside the rings, but also a handful of spent primers pressed out during cartridge reloading inside the lodge. This dates the occupation to sometime later than the mid 1870s.
Next year they’re coming back and there will be more to report. So, dear readers, if you’ve always dreamed of becoming an archaeologist, maybe you’d better check out the Indiana anthropology program at Bloomington. You’re probably too late for fall semester, but if you manage to register for Spring–and cut Doc. Scheiber’s mustard–maybe we’ll see you out here for 2011 with a trowel in your hand.