May 23rd: One Deep Trough

Field student, Kim, removing debris and sediment from 100.T1's never-ending trough.

After a long 2 1/2 day break from excavation, the crew returned to working in trenches 100.T1 and 101.T3.

100.T1 was pretty much finished the week before. The working surface at the north end of the trench and the sloped planks at the south end were located very close to the surface and finished quickly. The trough running through the middle of the unit was another story.

We suspected that this trough was related to the mortar box area where a Cornish drop stamp battery (probably 4 stamps to a battery) would be set up over the top. This trough continued down over 1 meter deep however, and why this needed to be so deep I can’t really understand yet. For now, we are calling it the mortar box trough, but as research continues, we may have to seriously adjust our thinking here.

Midway though the trough a layer of tar paper and roofing nails were discovered. These are likely from the roof of Warren’s mill (mentioned in the post “One Site, Three Mills”) after it burned in the 1920’s. What is great about finding something like this is since we can date its deposition, we know everything underneath it should come from before the 1920’s. Unfortunately, underneath the tar paper was just fill sediment, and basically devoid of artifacts.

A view of the trough looking east. The tarpaper has just been removed and the beam running from left to right is 30 cm across and ended up going down about 50 cm. The beam on the trough's right side is even larger.

The wood surrounding the trough (and what makes up the foundations for the working surfaces) are some impressive pieces of timber. Using both rough-hewn and milled wood, the builders had access to some remarkably large trees-much larger than those found today. We’ve found beams located across this and other trench units that measure roughly 50×50 cm across and at least 6 meters in length.

In the photo at left you can see an iron block underlying some wood that is sitting vertical, all set up to probably handle a great weight. We’ll get back to that feature in a later post. Another thing you’ll notice in the image is at there are many notches and shims set into the large top-bottom running beam on the right side of the trough. This is likely due to adjustments made in equipment as things are installed, removed, repaired, re-installed or discarded. Just one of the construction techniques that will become more and more prevalent as the work continued.

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About Sean Gohman

Currently a PhD Degree seeking student in the Michigan Tech University's Industrial Heritage and Archaeology program.

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