June 16th: Father’s Day Open House

Visitors to the Cliff Mine site.

Lee Presley explains the interyard excavation trenches to visitors.

Yesterday the rain held off until a misty fog came in and then turned to drizzle just as we wrapped up for the day. Despite the weather, thirty or thirty two people visited our dig to see what was in the trenches.  The visitors were very enthusiastic and patient as we worked out the mechanics of our first day of tours and hikes.  Several visitors spent well over an hour at the site and then offered helpful suggestions about how we could tweak our open house to  make things function better.  The students had a brainstorming session when we returned to the lab and we have ideas for improvement, some of which we can implement today and several for next weekend’s open house.

The weather should be beautiful today! Bring your dad out to visit the mine- it will be a perfect Keweenaw summer day for a hike over mine ruins!

P.S. After today’s open house, I will start updating the blog about laying out our excavations. I should be able to get caught up next week so we can post lots of pictures of the excavation in progress!

Visitors to the Cliff Mine Site.

Tim Scarlett explains the history of the Cliff to visitors.

Visitors to the Cliff Mine Site.

Melissa and Katie explain the connections among artifacts and the excavation stratigraphy.



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About Timothy James Scarlett

Associate Professor of Archaeology at Michigan Technological University.

7 responses to “June 16th: Father’s Day Open House”

  1. Bubba Jo McGee says :

    Looks like something that would be interesting to observe, lots of thought into excavation plans

  2. Bubba Jo McGee says :

    I noticed the comment on your earlier post that someone was looking for the family homestead. Did each family own their house or farm, or just lease it from the company?

    I assume the latter, although for a farm like the bramert farm maybe not. Housing I’m sure was in short supply, sort of like trying to get an apartment in new York city

    • Timothy James Scarlett says :

      In Clifton, everyone did rent from the company. That makes it hard to find out who lived in which building, because we don’t have deed and title records that we can research. Unless someone finds the old ledger book in their family collection, where the Pittsburgh, Boston, and Copper Harbor Mining Company recorded who rented which building, it may be impossible to know. We’ve got some students working on it right now, trying to figure this out using census records, but it is very difficult (or someone would have done that years ago!)

  3. Bubba Jo McGee says :

    Did any of these folks own ‘pets’ like a dog, or was this place too remote?

    • Timothy James Scarlett says :

      We recovered cat bones last year during our work in Clifton, Bubba. As Lee Presley told my archaeological science class, just because we find cat bones doesn’t mean they kept cats as pets. They may have brought cats to Clifton so they would control mice, rats and other rodents, but the animals may have been essentially ferrel. Cats and people have a relationship of the type that evolutionary scientists call “mutualism.” The fact that the cat bones were found mixed with other trash and bone waste indicates that they probably were not really pets (in the modern sense), since they would have been buried more carefully after death, but that isn’t proof one way or the other. I bet lots of parents have thrown out gerbils and fish without formal burial. You’ll be happy to know that there weren’t any butchering marks to suggest that Clifton residents were eating cats!

  4. Betty Rae & Brian Taivalkoski says :

    Just got back from the tour. Thanks so much to all of you for taking the time to share your work with us. Fascinating experience.

    • Timothy James Scarlett says :

      Thanks for coming out! Please tell all your friends to come see us next weekend or the weekend following. We have a couple of things planned for the next two weeks, including a soil chemistry survey and maybe a third excavation trench in Clifton!

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