“On the banks of the red cedar…”

Over the next few weeks, the Campus Archaeology Program will be conducting field survey along the banks of the Red Cedar River. Landscape Services is engaging in a variety of projects, including tree planting and fence building. The areas included are along Kalamazoo Road and behind Jenison Field House, the Pinetum behind Demonstration Hall, along Beal Road beyond the baseball field’s right field fence, and just north of Spartan Stadium, near the walking bridge to the Library.

The Red Cedar River has historic and prehistoric significance. Historically, the river has been a dumping ground: Landscape Services has reported finding trash along the river, and last fall a good-sized early 20th century trash pit was discovered in People’s Park, just East of one of the locations we will be excavating. Documents also indicate that this area was a meeting ground for Native Americans. Robert Burcham, who lived in the area now called West Circle, remembered trading and interacting with the Natives who met on the South side of the river.

This area was near the junction of two major Indian roads, Okemah Road and the Park Lake Trail. Okemah Road followed along the river from Western campus entrance, making the river a primary location for potential sites. The Pinetum is significant since it is believed to be on top of a natural sand dune; we will be working with Dr. Alan Arbogast of the Geography Department, who researches Michigan dunes.

We will begin surveying this Thursday and Friday behind Spartan Stadium, so feel free to stop by to see what is going on, or follow along on Twitter and at the dedicated Flickr photoset.

Author: Terry Brock

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