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An Intensive Archaeological Survey: Brownsville Independent School District Early College High School Project, Cameron County Texas
Texas Historical Commission
This report documents the results of an intensive archaeological survey for the Brownsville Independent School District (BISD) Early College High School Project on the south west bank of Fort Brown Resaca., Cameron County, Texas. In accordance with the Antiquities Code of Texas (13TAC26.21), GTI submitted an Antiquities Permit application to Texas Historical Commission, and GTI Environmental, Inc. (GTI) was issued Antiquities Permit # 5862. This intensive archaeological survey demonstrates the BISD’s compliance with the code by identifying cultural resources as early as possible in the planning process, and it also demonstrates BISD’s continued efforts of their responsibility to provide prior notification to THC in accordance with Section 191.0252 of the code.
A review of the Atlas database indicated that there are numerous documented cultural resources within a one mile radius of the project area. Archaeology site 41CF95 is directly adjacent to the western end of the project area according to the archaeological site form in the THC’s Atlas Database. The site is the historic Neal (Neale) Homestead House, one of the earliest homes in Brownsville circa 1850. The focus of the intensive archaeological survey was to document the presence or absence of cultural resources within the project area. The historic 1930 East Brownsville USGS topographic quadrangle map and historic 1950 aerial of the project area show a row of housing on Neale Drive that may predate 1930 and were demolished by 1955 (according to review of historic maps including the 1955, 1970, and 1983 East Brownsville topographic maps). The old alignment of Neale Drive traverses diagonally through the project area. The houses were considered extant house site locations within a high probability area where historical archaeological sites may be located. Because these extant houses are next to Fort Brown Resaca, archaeologists considered the possibility that the cultural deposits may be associated with Fort Brown military housing.
A total of twelve shovel tests were excavated within the 3.52 acre tract of the project area. Archaeologist encountered two new cultural resources, a prehistoric artifact scatter and a historic artifact scatter, in the general area where structures were documented on historic topographic maps. The prehistoric site was designated 41CF213 and historical archaeology site was designated as 41CF214. GTI archaeologists determined that 41CF213 extends beyond the project boundary. The portion of this prehistoric site within the project area was assessed as not worthy for State Archaeological Landmark (SAL) designation. The SAL status for the portion of the site that extends beyond the project area is unknown. The historic site 41CF214 is severally disturbed from the demolition of the structures sometime between 1950 and 1955 based on Styrofoam cup fragments documented below historic artifacts. Two intact features were documented at historic site 41CF214. The first was the lower portion of a brick pier and the second was a burned trash pit or burned root ball. Based on archaeological and archival evidence, the site lacks integrity and no longer contains intact historic yardscape patterns, or can produce evidence that would identify distinct households, or a neighborhood community associated with possible military housing for Fort Brown, or earlier soldier encampments. Based on GTI’s investigation efforts for this intensive archaeological survey, the research value of 41CF214 historic archaeology site has been exhausted and warrants no further investigation. The site is not worthy for SAL designation. Accordingly, it is GTI’s opinion that the project should be allowed to proceed as planned.
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