Here we are, a quarter of the way through 2022, and I am just now adding the first update of the year. Hopefully, this will mark a return to more regular posting! Let’s start by wrapping up 2021 with a quick review.
Both in the museum and in the field, 2021 was another productive year for the Castle Museum’s Archaeology Program. Much of winter and early spring were spent in the lab completing analyses and drafting reports on our 2020 fieldwork at the Spencer Woods locale of the Spencer Farm site and in the Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge. Other projects from the early months of the year include cataloguing and photographing artifacts from our 2020 Frankentrost survey and from recent donations to the museum’s archaeology collection. The Castle Museum was also invited to prepare an exhibit at Saginaw Valley State University celebrating Indigenous Peoples’ Month. This exhibit, featuring artifacts from our archaeology collection, ran through the months of November and December.
Exciting things happened in the Archaeology Repository, too! We began renovations that will nearly double the usable storage space and make it easier to control the air temperature and humidity – both of which are vital to properly care for collections. The additional storage space will make it possible to better organize and expand the collection over time.
2021 also gave us another opportunity to continue our long-standing partnership with the Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge. Annually since 1999, the Castle Museum has engaged in fieldwork within the refuge including archaeological survey, site monitoring, and test excavations. In recent years, our work at the SNWR has primarily consisted of monitoring known archaeological sites. In 2021, in addition to monitoring sites, we once again conducted test excavations. Our 2021 excavations focused on a possible location for one of the late 19th century boarding houses associated with the Tittabawassee Boom Company. The T. B. Co. is known to have operated several boarding houses for their workers who were engaged in gathering and sorting logs that had been harvested and floated down the Tittabawassee River and its tributaries by various lumber companies working in the Saginaw Valley. Although they were unexpectedly abbreviated, our excavations revealed structural materials, including bricks, nails, plaster, and window glass; personal items such as pipe fragments, a button, and part of shoe or boot heel; food remains, including eggshells and bone fragments; utilitarian objects such as dish and bottle fragments; and many other items. Our findings are consistent with a boarding house location, but more research is needed to confirm the identification.
2022 promises to be another exciting year of Castle Museum Archaeology. We are looking forward to another field season at the probable T. B. Co. location. When the necessary permits are secured, the weather warms up a bit, and mud season gives way to spring, we will be back at it. Stay tuned for future updates!