Northwoods Archaeology 2020 - Passport in Time

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Current Projects > 2020
Minnesota - Chippewa NF
Closed! Archaeology and Northwoods Lumberjacks

20180719_113149.jpg by US Forest Service
Archaeological survey at site in 2018

June 15-19; 22-26, 2020
Volunteers must commit to 1 entire session; may participate in both

Join us this summer as we explore a 19th-century logging camp near the shore of Cass Lake in northern Minnesota! We do not know much about the camp so far except that it has several large earthen foundation features (at least 6), and that it appeared on a map of the Mississippi River (the Mississippi flows through Cass Lake) dating to 1900. The land where the camp is located became part of the Minnesota Forest Reserve, now known as the Chippewa National Forest, in 1902. It includes a large foundation (~80x170 ft.) that represents two buildings: a bunkhouse and a mess hall, which are aligned end-to-end. This configuration is known as a “dingle-type” structure, and there would have been a roofed porch between the buildings. Two other foundations have been tentatively identified as the foreman’s quarters and a stable.

In 2018, an archaeological survey was conducted on the site that involved the excavation of shovel tests (40 cm wide holes) both on a standard grid as well as guided-through, metal detector transects within four of the structural foundations. The shovel tests revealed artifacts such as bottle glass, nails, a clay pipe stem (smoking pipe), and a T-bone steak bone. The steak bone was found in the foreman’s quarters, suggesting he may have been eating better than his men!

The project in 2020 will include additional archaeological survey at the site (including mapping and shovel testing) as well as excavating formal, one-meter square units. The research will contribute to a master’s thesis being carried out by a student from St. Cloud State University. One of the goals of the project is to delve into the lives of loggers in northern Minnesota, and discover all we can about the site where they once dwelt through archaeology. Come out to the Chippewa this year, and help us learn more!

Number of openings: 12 (6 per session)

Special skills: Previous archaeological survey, excavation, mapping, sketching, and/or artifact identification experience useful, but not required
Minimum age: 12 years old; applicants under the age of 18 must apply with a parent or guardian; guardian MUST submit a separate application and plan to attend

Facilities: Tent and RV camping available at no charge in designated FS campgrounds in the Norway Beach Recreation Area (which is near the site); water, flush toilets, showers; limited RV pads with hook-ups at volunteer expense; volunteers responsible for own camping equipment, meals, and daily transportation to and from designated meeting areas
Nearest towns: Cass Lake, 3 miles; Bemidji, 15 miles

Applications due: Closed

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