Wait! Wait! There’s More!
It was supposed to be over.
During the backfill of the excavations (actually when we were finished and packing up), one of our volunteers (and a fellow grad student in Michigan Tech’s Industrial Archaeology program) Mark noticed a series of wood planks that looked suspiciously like a floor sticking out of the ground about 100 feet south of our workings. We didn’t have time to really look it over that day since it was time to go but I decided to come back out with Mark and fellow student, Roger to have a closer look.
One of the problems with archaeology is that at some point, you have to stop. We worked for 7 weeks at the site and opened up a lot of ground. The post-excavation lab work will be time-consuming, and adding more to an already overflowing plate is just foolish. However, we had to at least take some pictures and measurements to see if this was in fact a floor. We can always come back next year to investigate further.
The reason this supposed floor is intriguing is that it is pretty far removed from any visible remains associated with the mill and wash house. But (there’s always a but), the distance from the end of this supposed floor to the stone wall we believe was the eastern foundation of the wash house looked to be about 50 feet. According to the mine’s 1863 Annual Report to stockholders, the wash house was originally 100 feet long but had another 50 feet added in 1862. So, it is worth investigating this floor since it could be the remains of that 50 foot addition.
We measured the distance more accurately and found that it is roughly 49 feet. This is right in our wheelhouse. The ends of the planks were uncovered, drawn, mapped with the Total Station to see how they line up with known points in the wash house, and then covered back up again until next year. Its pretty exciting to make discoveries on the last day, though it is equally frustrating knowing you may have to wait a year or more to look closer at your find.