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Archaeological Investigations for the Avenue of the Saints Project
 

Archaeological Investigations for the Avenue of the Saints Project The Federal Highway Administration, the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT), and the Iowa Department of Transportation jointly conducted an environmental impact study during the 1990s for the construction of a 56-mile four-lane highway between Canton, Missouri and Mt. Pleasant, Iowa. Within Missouri this covers approximately 22 miles—all of which is in the Mississippi River valley—within Lewis and Clark Counties. Much of this work in Missouri involved the upgrading of U.S. Route 61. This was part of an overall plan to construct a 560-mile four-lane highway that would connect St. Paul, Minnesota, and St. Louis, Missouri—the Avenue of the Saints.

The initial Phase I archaeological survey in 1994 (Markman et al. 1996) and the supplemental survey in 1998 (Snow 2000) of the proposed highway corridor identified 101 sites. A total of 46 sites were recommended for Phase II testing, which was conducted in 1996 and 1998 (Markman et al. 1997 and Snow 2000, respectively). Of the tested sites, 28 were determined to meet the eligibility criteria for listing on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) and would be adversely affected by the proposed highway construction. During the final highway design the adverse effects to 8 of these NRHP eligble sites were avoided.

MoDOT hired the Cultural Resources Analysts, Inc. (CRA) to conduct the Phase III archaeological data recovery in a section of the proposed highway corridor between Canton and Wayland, Missouri. The data recovery began with geoarchaeologial investigations on approximately 10 miles of the highway corridor, which included 55 site locations, beginning in November of 2004. The archaeological excavations began in the Summer of 2005, focusing on the 20 NRHP eligible sites where the adverse effects could not be avoided, and continued through August of 2006.

MoDOT produced an 11-minute video and CRA produced a handout as part of the archaeological data recovery to discuss with the public how and why this work was being conducted. In addition, the MoDOT Northeast District provided information on the archaeological investigation on their Avenue of the Saints webpage. In the end, archaeologists excavated over a 1000 cultural features and recovered evidence of 10,000 years of human history and environmental change along a 15-mile segment of the Mississippi River valley in northeastern Missouri.

The production of a ten-volume set of reports on the Archaeological Investigations Within the Proposed U.S. 61 Corridor North of Canton in Lewis and Clark Counties Missouri, … has been completed:

  • Volume I: Background, Research Design, Methods, and Site Summaries (Bradbury et al. 2008) – This volume presents the background information for the project and the project area (environmental and cultural history), the research design, the methods (field and laboratory), and a summary of the sites investigated. Data collected at 55 sites are summarized in this volume: 17 within Lewis County and 38 within Clark County. This report is available online through the Missouri State Library.

  • Volume II: Environmental Reconstruction (Martin, editor 2015)– This volume contains detailed paleoenvironmental analyses and landform reconstruction conducted for this project. These data were derived through a combination of soil coring, trenching, sediment analyses, and analysis of phytolith and pollen data recovered from various contexts within the project area. Ultimately, this volume provides the context for interpreting the settings in which the archaeological deposits were originally left.

    Avenue of the Saints
    Avenue of the Saints

  • Volume III: Sites Subject to National Register Evaluation and Limited Data Recovery (Bradbury and Martin 2011a) – This volume details the investigations undertaken at a number of sites within the project area that did not undergo extensive excavations. The investigations at the sites discussed in this volume were limited due to either the sites not containing significant archaeological deposits, or because significant archaeological deposits were not located within areas at the sites that would be adversely affected by the highway construction. Twenty-five sites, 13 within Lewis County and 12 within Clark County, are included in this volume. Due to the limited excavations conducted at most of these sites, the report is mostly descriptive in nature (i.e., individual site artifact assemblage and geomorphological setting).

  • Volume IV: Excavations at the Baxter Lake Site and Logsdon Fan Site (Bradbury, Martin, and Bundy 2013)Early Archaic material was recovered from shallow terrace deposits at the Baxter Lake site (23LE41) and in deep deposits on an alluvial/colluvial fan at the Logsdon Fan site (23CK59). Several Hardin Barbed hafted bifaces and bifacial cores were recovered from the Baxter Lake Site. Tool manufacture appears to have been one of the main activities conducted at this site. Three localities containing sub-plowzone archaeological deposits were identified at the Logsdon Fan site. A few features, representing small hearths that date to the Early Archaic period, were examined. Overall, the site appears to represent a series of small campsites located on the same landform during this time period.

  • Volume V: Excavations at the Berhorst and Big Branch Sites (Bradbury and Martin 2011b) – Data recovery investigations conducted at the Berhorst site (23LE174) documented an early Late Woodland component and at least two Middle Archaic components. Data recovery investigations conducted at the Big Branch Fan site (23CK302) documented a mixed Early/Middle to Late Woodland zone and evidence for several Late Archaic to terminal Late Archaic occupations. A low density of historic artifacts was also recovered from the plow zone at both sites.
    Excavations at the  Berhorst and Big Branch Sites
    Excavations at the Berhorst and Big Branch Sites
  • Volume VI: Excavation at the Carskandon Site (Herndon 2013) – The main component represented among the numerous discrete and overlapping pit features ranging from hearths and earth ovens to ephemeral basins at the Carskandon site (23LE348) relates to the Middle Woodland Havana-Hopewell culture. The presence of postmolds indicates that one or several structures had been present in the area of the site investigated. The pottery included mostly plain and cordmarked Havana wares but also decorated Havana types. The lithic assemblage consisted mainly of Snyders and Dickson Cluster hafted biface, with a heavy reliance on local Burlington cherts. Blades and blade cores were also identified as were minor amounts of nonlocal blue-gray chert. Faunal and botanical remains were well preserved and indicate the utilization of both upland and floodplain settings as well as terrestrial and aquatic resources. Minor Late Woodland and Late Archaic components were also present, indicating that this landform was periodically used before and after Middle Woodland times. Late Woodland features were also identified beneath the plowzone among the Middle Woodland features. The Late Archaic component was buried just above a colluvial gravel lens and was represented by Sedalia/Wadlow, Nebo Hill, and Etley hafted bifaces, as well as by a modest amount of debitage. No features or definable activity areas were identified at the Late Archaic horizon, which is interpreted as representing a small, likely specialized site type.

  • Volume VII: Data Recovery at the Artesian Branch Site (Herndon 2011) – Several hundred cultural features were identified beneath the plowzone at the Artesian Branch site (23LE178/357). Few of the features identified and excavated at the site were superimposed. The overwhelming majority of the features at the site relate to the Late Woodland South Branch phase (A.D. 600-900). A minority of the features from the site appear to relate to a later non-South Branch phase occupation (A.D. 900-1000/1100) clustered at the western portion of the site.

  • Volume VIII: Data Recovery at the Sugar Creek Site (Martin 2015) – Hundreds of cultural features, including postmolds, were excavated during the investigations at the Sugar Creek (23CK57) site. The presence of several overlapping pits across the site suggests frequent reuse of this location. Furthermore, distinct postmold patterns were noted, indicating structures at the site. Diagnostic lithic materials included various Late Woodland hafted bifaces (e.g., Scallorn, Klunk, and Lowe Clusters). Pottery recovered at the site was also largely Late Woodland in age. Surface treatments were predominately either net-impressed or cordmarked, but smoothed-over varieties of these and plain examples also occurred. The mix of pottery types is indicative of several occupations utilizing this site during various Late Woodland phases. Botanical remains recovered from features at the site are abundant.

  • Volume IX: Excavation at the Killdeer Site (Martin 2014) – Early Woodland, Middle Woodland, and Late Woodland diagnostic material was found within and just beneath the plowzone at the Killdeer site (23CK310). Prehistoric and historic features were documented at the base of the plowzone. The historic features indicated a late-nineteenth-century structure location and associated activity areas. The prehistoric features were small basin-shaped pits with no diagnostic material to provide a date or function. Early Woodland Black Sand pottery was found associated with a small lithic scatter in sub-plowzone deposits at the site. The small artifact assemblage and lack of features associated with the Early Woodland component indicates a brief use of the site at any one time. However, multiple vessels appear to be represented in the Early Woodland pottery assemblage, suggesting that several brief occupations may have occurred during this period.

  • Volume X: Synthesis of Results (Bradbury and Herndon 2016) – In this volume a final synthesis is provided to tie all of the sites together and examine them in light of a more regional perspective. Comparisons with other sites are presented in more detail in this volume. The organization of the volume is built around the major research themes first presented in Volume I. Within these major areas, specific research questions/objectives have been examined.

Excavations

References Cited


Bradbury, Andrew P., Andrew V. Martin, and Steven D. Creasman (editors)
  2008     Archaeological Investigations Within the Proposed U.S. 61 Corridor North of Canton in Lewis and Clark Counties Missouri, Volume I:  Background, Research Design, Methods, and Site Summaries. Report on file at the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, State Historic Preservation Office, Jefferson City, Missouri. The report is also available from the Historic Preservation section of the Missouri Department of Transportation.

Bradbury, Andrew P. and Andrew V. Martin (editors)
  2011a     Archaeological Investigations Within the Proposed U.S. 61 Corridor North of Canton in Lewis and Clark Counties Missouri, Volume III: Sites Subject to National Register Evaluation and Limited Data Recovery. Report on file at the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, State Historic Preservation Office, Jefferson City, Missouri. The report is also available from the Historic Preservation section of the Missouri Department of Transportation.

  2011b     Archaeological Investigations Within the Proposed U.S. 61 Corridor North of Canton in Lewis and Clark Counties Missouri, Volume V: Excavations at the Berhorst and Big Branch Sites. Report on file at the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, State Historic Preservation Office, Jefferson City, Missouri. The report is also available from the Historic Preservation section of the Missouri Department of Transportation.

Bradbury, Andrew P., Andrew V. Martin, and Paul D. Bundy
2013 Archaeological Investigations Within the Proposed U.S. 61 Corridor North of Canton in Lewis and Clark Counties Missouri, Volume IV: Excavations at the Baxter Lake (23LE41) and Logsdon Fan (23CK59) Sites. Report on file at the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, State Historic Preservation Office, Jefferson City, Missouri. The report is also available from the Historic Preservation section of the Missouri Department of Transportation.

Bradbury, Andrew P. and Richard L Herndon (editors)
  2016     Archaeological Investigations Within the Proposed U.S. 61 Corridor North of Canton in Lewis and Clark Counties Missouri, Volume X: Synthesis of Results. Report on file at the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, State Historic Preservation Office, Jefferson City, Missouri. The report is also available from the Historic Preservation section of the Missouri Department of Transportation.


Herndon, Richard L.
  2011     Archaeological Investigations Within the Proposed U.S. 61 Corridor North of Canton in Lewis and Clark Counties Missouri, Volume V: Data Recovery at the Late Woodland Artesian Branch Site (23LE178/357) in Lewis County, Missouri. Report on file at the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, State Historic Preservation Office, Jefferson City, Missouri. The report is also available from the Historic Preservation section of the Missouri Department of Transportation.

  2103    Archaeological Investigations Within the Proposed U.S. 61 Corridor North of Canton in Lewis and Clark Counties Missouri, Volume VI:  Data Recovery at the Middle Woodland and Late Woodland Carskadon Site (23LE348) in Lewis County, Missouri. Report on file at the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, State Historic Preservation Office, Jefferson City, Missouri. The report is also available from the Historic Preservation section of the Missouri Department of Transportation.

Markman, Charles W., Julie E. Songer, Christopher C. Lockwood, Neal L. Trubowitz and Charles D. Trombold
  1996     Avenue of the Saints Archaeological Sites: Survey Results to be Incorporated into Draft Environmental Document in Advance of Construction of the Avenue of the Saints Highway from Canton to St. Francisville in Lewis and Clark Counties, Missouri. Report on file at the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, State Historic Preservation Office, Jefferson City, Missouri.

Markman, Charles W., John A. J. Darwent, Christopher C. Lockwood, Charles D. Trombold and Neal L. Trubowitz

  1997     Avenue of the Saints Highway Phase II Archaeological Testing of Nineteen Sites in Advance of Construction: Canton to St. Francisville in Lewis and Clark Counties, Missouri. Report on file at the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, State Historic Preservation Office, Jefferson City, Missouri.

Martin, Andrew V.
 
  2014     Archaeological Investigations Within the Proposed U.S. 61 Corridor North of Canton in Lewis and Clark Counties Missouri, Volume IX: Excavations at the Killldeer Site. Report on file at the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, State Historic Preservation Office, Jefferson City, Missouri. The report is also available from the Historic Preservation section of the Missouri Department of Transportation.

   2015     Archaeological Investigations Within the Proposed U.S. 61 Corridor North of Canton in Lewis and Clark Counties Missouri, Volume VIII: Data Recovery at the Late Woodland Sugar Creek Site (23CK57) in Clark County, Missouri. Report on file at the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, State Historic Preservation Office, Jefferson City, Missouri. The report is also available from the Historic Preservation section of the Missouri Department of Transportation.

Martin, Andrew V. (editor)
  2015     Archaeological Investigations Within the Proposed U.S. 61 Corridor North of Canton in Lewis and Clark Counties Missouri, Volume II: Environmental Reconstruction. Report on file at the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, State Historic Preservation Office, Jefferson City, Missouri. The report is also available from the Historic Preservation section of the Missouri Department of Transportation.


Snow, Susan R.
  2000     Phase I and II Investigations at 27 Archaeological Sites in the Missouri Portion of the Avenue of the Saints, Canton to St. Francisville, Clark and Lewis Counties, Missouri. Report on file at the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, State Historic Preservation Office, Jefferson City, Missouri.

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