Assessing Historic Sites - Passport in Time

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To Be or Not to Be: Assessing Historic Sites

Winema National Forest, Oregon, 1997
by Jorie Clark, District Archaeologist

Volunteers, happy as they could be, spent 80 hours visiting 22 previously recorded can dump sites. The purpose of this PIT project was to determine whether the sites were at least 50 years old, and if so, were they significant based on theNRHP criteria. If the can dumps met none of the above criteria, then we could list them as non-sites and remove them from further management treatment.

Prior to the field visits, we generated a list and map of all the can dumps on the district using geographic information systems (GIS) technology and selected the most equivocal sites. A reminder—if the description of the access to the site is poorly defined or vague, it’s probably best to just figure that the site won’t be found, that is, unless you have several hours of leisure time to burn! We probably spent more time trying to relocate sites than actually revisiting them, but we didn’t fuss. Based on our prefield and reference materials, we paid particular attention as to whether cans and bottles had diagnostic features such as brand names or manufacturers’ dates. We also looked at the shape, size, color, and seam structure of bottles and cans, and how the item was opened and the type of material that was used. Of our site visits, only one site was at least 50 years old (a future PIT project? . . .).

All in all, we had plenty of rain, sun—and, oh, the mosquitoes, but we had a grand time.
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