This report contains the results of archaeological work performed by the Center for Archaeological Research (CAR) at The University of Texas San Antonio (UTSA) for City Public Service (CPS). The archaeological investigation and monitoring for the Mission Trails Underground Conversion Project was carried out under Texas Historical Commission (THC) Permit Number: 2020, and the work was conducted at each of the four historical San Antonio missions which make up San Antonio Missions National Historical Park.
The Mission Trails Underground Conversion Project was created to enhance and upgrade electrical and utility connections by replacing aboveground connections with underground connections at each ofthe four missions.
Mission San Juan (41BX5)-In October of 1998, personnel from CAR began archaeological investigations at Mission San Juan Capistrano in advance of the proposed installation of underground utility lines for the Mission Trails Underground Conversion Project. The purpose of the investigation was to test for intact, buried cultural features in advance of trenching activities involved in the relocation of utility lines and connections. CAR archaeologists developed a plan regarding the area to be impacted which included ten 1 x 1-m excavations units and a series of twelve shovel tests along the proposed path of the utility trench. Excavation units uncovered evidence of existing buildings, wall foundations and Colonial-period flooring episodes, revealing new data west of the known structures and not previously accounted for. Further excavations are warranted to determine the nature of features such as a Colonial-period wall revealed near one of the excavation units. This material discovered by the archaeological investigations resulted in the altering of the projected utility trench alignment to avoid disturbing deposits. Further archaeological investigations are recommended for the newly revealed features.
Mission San Jose (41BX3)- In January of 1999, personnel from CAR began archaeological investigations at Mission San Jose y San Miguel de Aguayo in advance of the proposed installation of underground utility lines for the Mission Trails Underground Conversion Project. The purpose of the investigation was to test for intact, buried cultural features in advance of trenching activities involved in the relocation of utility lines and connections. CAR archaeologists conducted a series of shovel tests along the center-lines of the proposed utility trenches to identifY areas of possible impact to intact Spanish Colonial cultural materials. In addition to shovel testing, monitoring of the trenching was conducted in areas where the possibility of impacting cultural material was high. An early-twentieth century trash midden was encountered during monitoring of the trench where it paralleled the Service Drive in the northwest comer of the Mission compound. This material did not warrant altering the course of the trench, and no further archaeological work is recommended at this time.
Mission Concepcion (41BX12)- In January of 1999, personnel from CAR began archaeological investigations at Mission Nuestra Senora de la Purisima Concepcion as part of the Mission Trails Underground Conversion Project. A construction crew, while excavating a manhole designed to provide access to underground electrical utilities, had unearthed a large number of animal bones. After concluding a large feature had been unexpectedly impacted, CAR conducted test excavations to ascertain the nature of this feature. It was determined to be a section of an acequia which had been refilled during the Colonial period with construction debris and trash, including a large number of animal bones. Test units and the original manhole excavations allowed for a profile of the acequia to be constructed. This information combined with previous archaeological work and historical research, allowed a tentative proposal on the sequence of acequia construction and re-routing for the Concepcion mission. Monitoring of other underground work conducted in the area resulted in the discovery of a location of a Colonial-period wall, southeast of the Visitors' Center, which may be a portion of the original south wall of the mission. It is recommended that if any further work is required, consideration should be given to testing and/or monitoring to reduce the risk of negative impact to historic remains.
Mission Espada (41BX4)- In July of 1999, personnel from CAR began archaeological investigations at Mission San Francisco de la Espada in advance of the proposed installation of underground utility lines for the Mission Trails Underground Conversion Project. From initial discussions, it was noted that the proximity of the proposed route of the underground utility trench could have an impact on the old compound walls of the mission and the path was altered to avoid any possible impact. A series of thirteen shovel tests were conducted in advance along the altered path of the proposed utility trench as it progressed from the southwest comer of the mission compound across the dry irrigation ditch or acequia to the northwest. Monitoring of the trenching activities followed with no significant deposits being exposed. No further work is recommended within the project area, but if future construction is to occur in the area between the utility trench and the Church at Mission Espada, monitoring should then be considered.
Tennis, Cynthia L.; Cox, I. Waynne; Durst, Jeffery J.; Edmondson, Donna D.; Meissner, Barbara A.; and Tomka, Steve A.
"Archaeological Investigations at Four San Antonio Missions: Mission Trails Underground Conversion Project,"
Index of Texas Archaeology: Open Access Gray Literature from the Lone Star State: Vol. 2001
, Article 17. https://doi.org/10.21112/ita.2001.1.17
Available at: https://scholarworks.sfasu.edu/ita/vol2001/iss1/17
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