Thirsty Gulch 2011 - Passport in Time

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Thirsty Gulch Revisited

Umpqua Natonal Forest, Oregon, 2011
by Christopher Kelly, District Archaeologist 
The Thirsty Gulch Revisited Passport in Time (PIT) project was conducted during September 2011 to examine the age, stratigraphy, and an unanticipated cultural horizon.  From the data we have gathered over the past two years, the Thirsty Gulch site will be nominated to the National Register of Historic Places.   Once again, our volunteers made this project an absolute success.

The Thirsty Gulch site has been a focal point for looters over the past 15 years.  The Forest Service has been closely monitoring this site for disturbances and documenting damages at the site. Testing has been conducted near the vandalized digging areas in order to assess the damage and to recover data about the site.  Over the past two years, the Forest Service has conducted two PIT projects at Thirsty Gulch. 

The first week of the project started out cool with drizzle, and our small crew was incredibly hard working.  Our goal for year two at Thirsty Gulch included pacing another 1 x 6 meter long trench adjacent to our 2010 units.   We got off to a great start and continued our discovery of incredible finds.  Projectile points, edge-modified and utilized flakes, scrapers, and cobble tools were found by everyone.  We also located what appears to be a pit that showed signs of intense heat.

As our second week began, a larger group of volunteers came to Thirsty Gulch with sunny, but cool weather.  Camaraderie is always a fun characteristic of a PIT project, and the group in week two was wonderful to work with.  Everyone caught on quickly and worked diligently to help us achieve our goal.  We were able to collect artifacts in-situ, and we recovered charcoal samples in places that will allow us to date the cultural horizon of interest.

We hope to someday return to Thirsty Gulch, but it probably won’t happen in the near future.  To all of you who have made the past two years of PIT an amazing success – THANK YOU!   As always, watch the Passport In Time website for more opportunities to participate in great projects on your National Forests.
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