Old Federal Road Survey 2018 - Passport in Time

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Mississippi - De Soto NF
Closed! Searching for the Old Federal Road

Dscn2028.jpg by Rob Reams, US Forest Service
Spring fed tributary of Black Creek

April 9-13, 2018

Must commit to entire session

Please join us on the De Soto National Forest for the surveying of a small section of the Old Federal Road! According to historic maps and other documentation, the Old Federal Road crossed a portion of Black Creek (a major drainage bisecting the De Soto NF) near recently acquired land. At the creek crossing, a Mr. Joseph Mims operated a ferry in the early 1800s. The Old Federal Road was one of the original roads connecting civilization to the newly purchased land of Louisiana and the bustling town of New Orleans. The road, built in 1806, was utilized by the military especially for the movement of troops during the later stages of the War of 1812 and the battle of New Orleans in 1815. Waves of settlers also used the road on their search for new lands in the Mississippi Territory, which included both the states of Alabama and Mississippi. In Mississippi, the Old Federal Road generally followed the 31st Parallel, which served as the border between the United States and Spanish Territory until the 1820s.

This season, we will be surveying using shovels, screens, and metal detectors to try to locate objects and features associated with the old road and ferry crossing. Specifically, we'll look for traces of early 1800s travel, ferry remains, and structures associated with the Mims family habitation. Our work on the road will also be the first of several steps in defining the road across the forest. We'll be working on a wooded strip of Forest Service land, west of Highway 29 near Black Creek, and we'll be walking through the thick woods, not on permanent trails. The way to the area involves walking a long distance through the woods, and supplies and equipment will have to be packed in, but it will all be worth it! The biggest aspect of this project will be the use of metal detectors, which are normally illegal to operate on Forest property. If you're able to laugh, walk, have fun, and listen to boring history lessons by the archaeologist, then this project is for you – we hope to see you this spring for another unique, De Soto NF PIT opportunity!

Number of openings: 10

Special skills: Volunteers must be physically capable of hiking several miles over rough terrain, and often thick woodland each day, in fluctuating temperatures; previous archaeological survey, artifact identification, mapping, excavation/testing, and/or metal detector experience helpful, but not required

Minimum age: 18 years old

Facilities: Developed RV, tent, and cabin camping/lodging available at Paul B. Johnson State Park; RV hook-ups, water, bath house; fees will apply; very crude facilities in nearby forest at no charge; Wiggins and Hattiesburg are full-service communities with hotels/motels, restaurants, and a full range of other amenities; volunteers responsible for own lodging/personal camping equipment, food, water during work hours, and transportation

Nearest towns: Brooklyn, 9 miles; Wiggins, 10 miles; Hattiesburg, 28 miles

Applications due: February 12, 2018

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