I left the house mid afternoon last Sunday and drove to Fairplay, CO a small old mining town, now small tourist town about 60 miles, but a world away from here. There I met with the Forest Service archaeologist and several other of the volunteers for an “ice breaker”. After meeting everyone and getting a bite to eat I headed for the campground that was to be our headquarters for the week. It was about 12 miles south of Fairplay and off the highway about a mile. Nothing fancy here. Outhouses and a water pump were the only amenities but the setting under the pine and spruce trees was enough for me.
Our project was to explore Pole Gulch and look for signs of prehistoric and historic activity. The group consisted of seven volunteers and two archaeologists. We split up into two teams and fanned out across an incredibly beautiful valley to begin the search.
The search is simple enough. We walk in a line about 5-10 yards apart and look at the ground trying to find stone tools or flakes indicating that prehistoric people had visited the place. Part of the valley had been searched before and several sites had been discovered so we were pretty sure we’d find more.
It didn’t take long to find flakes of Jasper on the ground. We could tell that they had been worked by someone and besides the nearest source of Jasper in the area was over 10 miles away. The picture to the right is of a flake like the many we found. We also found some more complete “points” and tools, pictured below.
All in all we found about six different prehistoric sites and three or four historic sites. One of the historic sites was the remains of an old logging camp with what appeared to be four different dwellings. The only thing that remained was scraps of lumber to indicate where the houses were and all sorts of debris; dish fragments which would indicate that women were present; a marble that would indicate that children were present and a lot of cans and other household debris. This site probably dated from 1900 to about 1920.
It’s much harder to date the prehistoric sites but it appeared as if this valley had been used by Native Americans for thousands of years as a summer campground….and I could see why. Plenty of fresh water and game and an incredible view of the surrounding area. One site was on top of a hill that gave a clear view for miles around. If you were there it would be pretty hard for someone to sneak up on you.
We surveyed the area for five days and wound up the project Friday about noon. The Bride came up on Friday afternoon and we had a great two days of just chilling and a little exploring. On Saturday morning I took her back into the area we surveyed and showed her some of the things we found. She was pretty good at spotting flakes on the ground!
On Saturday night The Bride prepared a gourmet meal of lamb chops and grilled asparagus….a little wine, a great meal with great ambiance….life is good.
The wildflowers were also spectacular at the altitude we were at and I was able to get a couple of HDR photos….see below. I still have several more applications in for other PIT projects and hope that I’ll get selected for one or two. This is really habit forming….
Thanks for visiting.