Friday, September 18, 2009

Old Spanish Trail Passport In Time Project


Monday afternoon- 5pm

I arrived at the Old Agency Forest Service Work Station on Saturday afternoon after a pleasant five hour drive from the Denver area. This place is called “Old Agency” because it was the first Indian Agency for the original Ute Indian Reservation in Colorado during the 1870’s.  The land is now mostly private ranches and National Forest. The terrain here at the Agency is high prairie with an elevation of about 9100’ above sea level. About eight RVs full of volunteers and Forest Service personnel are using this as a base of operations. The actual project site is about three miles from here.

Yesterday we visited the site and cleared sagebrush off of the area we were going to excavate. The local Forest Service archaeologist believes that the site is an old stage stop for the Barlow and Sanderson Stage Company that operated in the area in the 1870’s. The site consists of what appears to be the main building with two fireplaces, a root cellar, two rock lined wells and a privy. The ground is littered with old tin cans, brown bottle glass, clear glass, aqua glass and some earthen ware shards.old3

It seems as if we’re in a monsoon pattern because every afternoon it clouds up about 1 pm and by 2:30 or 3:00 pm we get rain for about an hour and a half. That makes our days pretty short, which is a welcome change from the last project I worked on. Before and after the daily rain it is absolutely spectacular. It’s cool and the aspens are beginning to turn.

Today we began actual excavation of four test areas. This was an interesting experience for me as I have never done a “dig” before. The excavations consist of 1 meter by one meter squares that are aligned in a true north/south/east/west direction. The dirt is then removed 10 centimeters deep (about 4”) at a time. All the dirt that is removed is put through a 1/4” screen to find any object that are missed when we take the dirt out.old4

Today I worked on the root cellar site. By the time rain chased us off we had removed about a foot of dirt from our meter by meter square plot. The only things of interest we found were old square cut nails, some brown bottle glass (most likely old beer bottles) and several pieces of rib bones that looked like they had been cut….probably I side of venison or beef that had been hung in the root cellar. Once we get to what we think is just about or below the floor level, we’ll start another meter by meter square right next to the one we’re working on now.

Back to the Old Agency site….There is a cowboy that is staying here with the permission of the Forest Service. I’m not sure of all the background but he’s a real life working cowboy and he leaves early each morning with two horses and rounds up cattle in the hills around us. He needs to bring them down before winter sets in….so I’m here at an old Indian Agency and I watch this cowboy come in every evening with his two horses. He takes the saddles off, curries them, feeds them and turns them loose in the corral close by. This is the heartland of America!old5  It’s hard to describe the feeling I have in these surroundings. I feel like I could walk out of my RV tomorrow morning and be magically transported back to the 1870’s.

I’ll try to find out more of the cowboy’s story and get some better pictures…

Thanks for visiting.

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