What Happens to a Landowner’s Property During Historical Artifact Excavations?

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By Hinton Museum Curator, Art Peters The plain and simple answer is “Nothing much happens, before, during or after”. In my work, once I discover a property has the potential to have been a wagon train campsite, by using aerial maps as I’m tracking and mapping the wagon trail, I then need to look at the site in person to make the final decision. This on-site viewing is never done until the landowner can be contacted and permission is granted. Even if permission is granted the landowner may have reasons to restrict access during certain times or seasons due to livestock or crops. Therefore, working around the landowner’s time frame becomes a necessary priority.

The typical metal detector scanning type of excavations for wagon travel time-period artifacts is a simple, but sometimes becomes a time-consuming process. The typical wagon train campsite usually covers anywhere from a three to five-acre area, depending on wagon train sizes that may have camped there. The typical artifacts found are broken chain links, broken wagon brackets and carriage bolts, wielding slag, bullets and once in a while personal items like pocketknife blades and broken silverware. During the past twelve years that I’ve been doing this type of field research, I have personally never found a coin, a piece of jewelry or a gun, but maybe someday I will.

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