Searching for the Chittenden Memorial Cabin

Well over half of CAP’s last two weeks of summer work involved an extensive survey of People’s Park. People’s Park, for those who have never heard the term, is the open area between Wells Hall, the Red Cedar River, Erickson Hall, and the International Center. Its name comes from a series of protests that happened there in the spring of 1970. Our primary goal for the survey was to locate the Chittenden Memorial Cabin, a cabin built in the area by Forestry students to commemorate A. K. Chittenden, a beloved Forestry professor. A historical marker was recently put up outside Wells Hall about the cabin.

People's Park Shovel Test Survey
People’s Park Shovel Test Survey

We ended up surveying much of People’s Park via a shovel test pit grid at 5 meter intervals. The areas we surveyed can be seen to the left in light green. Aside from unusually compact gravelly soil, the area held few surprises. The first day of digging, we did find a large, triangular piece of concrete, presumably from an old sidewalk and continued to find large pieces of concrete throughout the week. There were only two STPs of significant interest in our survey. The first was found on the first day and, after expanding, consisted of several large (almost foundation sized) stones, and bricks, concrete, and large fragments of what we think are drainage pipes. This was located at the light blue dot on the below map. The other surprise came later in the week, and was cut short by a short rain storm. The STP marked by a light green dot on the below map had a much higher artifact concentration (including some decorated whiteware) than the rest of People’s Park as well as what appeared to be a burned layer in the stratigraphy, where a good portion of the artifacts were found. Based on the location of the short course dormitories (seen in yellow below), there is a chance it may have been a small trash pit for them, although the density of artifacts was lower and the stratigraphy was different than other trash pits found on campus.

People's Park- 1952 Buildings
People’s Park- 1952 Buildings

The above map was the result of some GIS research I did to further understand the area we were surveying. I used a 1952 map of campus and georeferenced it with our existing CAP GIS database to reveal the approximate locations of the buildings we were searching for. The yellow buildings are the ones found on the 1952 map while the brown ones are modern buildings. It turns out that the memorial cabin is currently mostly located underneath the sidewalk patio outside of the C-Wing of Wells Hall. This georeference in GIS helped us tailor our survey to hit potential “hot-spots” or areas where we were most likely to come across artifacts.


Author: Josh Schnell

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *