Archaeology meeting digs into history

May 13, 2012 By Carolyn B. Tyler, Staff Writer

Three students of Central Wyoming College archaeology instructor Todd Guenther will present their state-recognized papers at the Tuesday, May 15, meeting of the Fremont County Archaeological Society.

The meeting that is open to the public and free of charge begins at 7:15 p.m. in the Hudson Town Hall.

Presentors are William Hovendick, Jordan Stapley and Bill Elder. They presented their papers at the state meeting of the Wyoming Archaeological Society in Gillette on April 27. The papers will be illustrated on a large screen.

Hovendick's paper is titled "Proposed Model for Quarry-related Occupation Sites in the Southern Wind River Mountains."

He recounted that steatite quarries and lithic sources have been documented on the southern end of the Wind River Mountains. Research in the northern Winds has documented high-elevation habitation sites in the vicinity of raw material sources.

Similar campsites should exist in the southern Winds, Hovendick said.

He has observed a multitude of evidence suggesting this area contains numerous undocumented archaeological sites.

His paper refers to quarry and settlement patterns from the northern Winds, then, based upon known quarries and documented sites at the southern end, proposes likely locations for related campsites.

The subject of Stapley's paper is the "Coal Gulch Rock Shelter."

He proposed the Coal Gulch Rock Shelter south of Lander has probably been occupied repeatedly since at least 6,000 years ago.

The west end of the 25-meter-long main shelter contains two substantial, circular stone structures which may be remnants of lodges. Prehistoric living floors in and around the structures are protected beneath 25 cm- to 50 cm-deep undisturbed deposits of colluvium and a "pavement" consisting of more than 100 years of compressed livestock manure.

The floor of the east half of the shelter has been disturbed by livestock milling and looters but contains a variety of lithic materials, fire-cracked rock and bone of undetermined age. The shelter wall and adjacent cliff faces contain a variety of pecked and incised petroglyphs and black and red paint and pictographs.

Pioneer names inscribed in the cliff face, homestead foundations at the mouth of the canyon and a small coal mine just up the canyon provide evidence of the earliest white settlers in the area.

Elder's paper is on "The Archaeology of James 'Uncle Jimmy' Carr."

It details that James Carr, a native Iowan, was an early Colorado pioneer and participant in the Sand Creek Massacre. After relocating his family to Wyoming, he mined gold near South Pass, worked on Sweetwater valley ranches and homesteaded several separate ranch properties in Fremont County.

He was also a community builder who was active in the development of the Lander town site and the Pioneer Museum.

Although well-known historically, little is known about the places he lived or developed. This project, funded by a 2011 Reiss Scholarship, begins to locate and document, site by site, the archaeological record of Carrís stereotypical pioneer wanderlust.

Those attending the program will have an opportunity to discuss their work with the college students.

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