History of PIT on the Tonto National Forest
Tonto National Forest, Arizona, 1994-1999
by Stephen Germick, Tonto National Forest PIT Coordinator
Our 1994 Oxbow Hill Rock Art Documentation and spring 1995 East Verde River Pictograph Documentation projects focused on recording rock art sites on the Payson Ranger District. These projects were followed up in June 1995 by the Potato Butte Mapping Project, the documentation of a defensive site located on the Pleasant Valley Ranger District. This recording provided baseline data to use should the district decide to develop the site for interpretation.
In 1996, the forest began two multiyear projects located on the Globe and Pleasant Valley Districts.
This year was our third season of mapping and documentation at the historic mill town of Pinal on the Globe District, which will require at least one more session to complete. After that, we’ll document the old haul road connecting the town with the Silver King mine and continue our work there. Our first session drew over 60 applicants from all over the country. The Pinal townsite, surrounded by past and present mineral extraction, sits atop an extensive, deep copper deposit and may be lost to future mining activity. Our fall 1996 Flying V Ranch Archaeological Survey on the Pleasant Valley District was initially advertised as the Soldier Camp Archaeological Survey. Contemplating vehicle breakdowns or possible injury to volunteers in a remote area of the forest, we prudently moved the survey to the safer and more accessible area of the former Flying V Ranch.
Over the last two years we’ve relocated and remapped sites previously found in the late 1960s and early 1970s by Arizona State University’s summer field school, while documenting several new sites in the area as well. This fall we’ll begin surveying in a poorly known area of the forest located south of Gisela on the Payson Ranger District. The Box Ruin Area Documentation, or the BRAD PIT for short (Forest Archaeologist Scott Wood can take credit for this catchy project name), will add significant archaeological information complementing recent excavations in the nearby lower Tonto Basin and add to our knowledge of Apache settlement patterns.
To summarize, PIT is a low-cost–high-return program providing a quality experience for enthusiastic volunteers who, with a variety of skills, assist the heritage team in documenting prehistoric and historical-period sites above the level of compliance inventory. PIT allows us to savor the archaeology, to ruminate over our findings, pose new questions, and dig deeper to answer them.