Center for Archaeological Research




This report represents the first volume detailing the results of archeological and archival investigations associated with the San Antonio Mission Trails Project. The project consists of a system of hike-and-bike trails under development by the City of San Antonio. Its purpose of the trails is to connect the Alamo with the four other Spanish Colonial missions in San Antonio. The project is divided into five packages or phases. Only the first four phases include archeological investigations. Because the project is estimated to last several years, rather than waiting for the completion of the entire project before issuing the report of findings, each volume issued in this series will report on the findings of a specific package or closely related packages. Archeological investigations performed for all phases of the Mission Trails Project were, or will be, conducted under Texas Antiquities Permit No. 2051.

In October of 1998, the Center for Archaeological Research (CAR) of the University of Texas at San Antonio contracted with the City of San Antonio, Bexar County, Texas, to provide archeological services to assess damage done by unmonitored construction activities to areas surrounding Mission San Francisco de la Espada, San Antonio, Texas. These investigators were part of the Mission Trails Project which was intended to provide archival research and monitoring of all construction activities in areas of the project that had the potential to impact cultural resources eligible for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places or for designation as State Archeological Landmarks.

Between December 1998 and April 1999, CAR performed the archeological investigations at Mission Espada. A total of 49 units was excavated in three areas designated as the Northwest Gateway, the Hike-and-Bike Trail, and Drainage System A. In addition, excavation by construction crews in Drainage Systems A and B and replacement of pipes within the Espada Acequia was monitored. Two blackhoe trenches were excavated in the Drainage System A and seven in Drainage System B.

Sixteen test units excavated in the Northwest Gateway revealed the remnants of a limestone foundation wall; possibly a portion of the original west wall of the mission, built around 1756. The units also revealed limestone paving outside the wall. Evidence seen during the excavation of the Northwest Gateway units shows that the area has been disturbed many times, probably beginning in Colonial times and continuing to the present. Damage to what remains of the foundations is due, among other things, to the multiple attempts to insert posts in this area and possibly to road grading as well. Installation of utilities through the area has also had an impact. Even though the area has been badly damaged by various activities through time, a large number of Colonial artifacts are still present, and evidence of the unreconstructed southern gate room is still present.

Twenty-six units were excavated in the Hike-and-Bike Trail area. This area presents a picture of varied disturbance; some units appeared to be in areas of essentially intact deposits and had no twentieth-century artifacts below the first 10-cm level, while others were in extensively disturbed areas. A portion of the Hike-and-Bike Trail was bladed prior to CAR’s monitoring of the construction activities. The historic deposits along the Hike-and-Bike Trail are not deeply buried, and although in some areas there may have been little or no damage done to these deposits by the blading of the trail, in other areas significant damage was done. Test units revealed that at least some areas of the trail have essentially intact Colonial deposits, and these deposits tend to be near the ground surface.

Seven test units and two backhoe trenches were excavated in Drainage System A. A Colonial-period pottery kiln and a pit feature were encountered. The pit feature was located near the kiln and may have been a borrow pit for clay. No significant cultural deposits were identified during the monitoring of the replacement of pipes in the Espada Acequia and the excavation of the seven backhoe trenches in Drainage System B.

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Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License



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