Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Day 15: The Chronicles of the Hillside Cabin

Today this blog will chronicle the adventures of the Hillside Cabin at the McKenzie Creek site. Suzannah, who's project is to excavate the Hillside Cabin and produce a detailed report, directed Andy and myself (Jessi) to do her bidding. Ah, the life of an underling.

The hillside cabin is on the west side of the field school excavation site and is, as you might have guessed, on a hill. Before we started our work at the cabin site, Bob Muckle showed us something of interest. (See picture below).

A few years ago Muckle had some students excavate in a small area downhill to the cabin. The weather was sprinkling today, and Muckle is an avid believer that the best excavation finds are often in the rain, because shiny objects are more noticeable, things seem to be washed off, or brought up to the surface somehow. In this old excavation area he spotted a Ponds jar, some glass, and a piece of a brown jug. Perhaps these artifacts found their way down the hill from the cabin. In the picture below, Muckle & Co. are standing to the right of the old excavation area.

There was something strange about the old excavation site though... there was a cedar tree that was cut down, and for some reason the people who chopped down the tree never moved it. In the picture below, the horizontal log has the blunt end where it was chopped, on the right.

After Muckle showed us this, we went up to the cabin with a few goals to complete today. The first thing we did was bring all of the needed supplies up to the cabin area! We took over a tree stump that is now lovingly referred to as "the locker" (pictured below).

We then proceeded to document the artifacts previously found on the surface in the area. E.g., Various sizes of nails, and a bottle stopper (which I am pointing at below).

The other major artifact that had to be documented was the three large shards of window glass found just downhill from the cabin next to a creek. In the picture below Suzannah is pointing to the glass.
A close up:

The next job to be completed was the setting up of the excavation units over the cabin frame. I left this task up to the official excavation unit setter-uppers. Suzannah and Andy ended up forming two units over the the cabin: the south unit, and the north unit.

As these two were working away, I adventured around the area to document the site so Suzannah would have photos to refer to, for her project, before we started digging. In the picture below, Suzannah is standing in the cabin, and the red flagging tape near the ferns in the photo is where the window glass, and some nails were discovered.

Below is a picture of the Cabin's East view.

West view:
North View:

South View:

Muckle directed the three of us to start excavating the south unit, because this is were he had found stove parts in the past, and there are probably more hiding in the same area. Of course, within the first half hour of excavating the surface level Andy found a stove piece! Naturally, my camera battery died, but Bob was kind enough to take some photos. Pictured below is the circular piece, which had a lot of diagnostic information on it: text! On the back it says "reversible", and on the front it says "Stover Mfg Eng Co. Freeport Illinois". Here is a link to a short Wikipedia article on them here.

Suzannah found what appears to be a metal basin, or perhaps even a garbage can lid, also on the surface level of the south unit. The artifact is very shallow, but with a large diameter. See the picture below!

Overall, a great success! We haven't even started the first level yet, and already two major artifacts were uncovered. The adventure continues tomorrow.

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