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Authors

Paul M. Matchen

Agency

Texas Historical Commission

Abstract

In May 2012, the City of Seguin (City) proposed to undertake street improvements, which included the replacement of water, sewer, and storm sewer lines including installation of four discharge structures replacing existing structures. This project was to be funded entirely by the City. In order to meet its legal responsibilities under existing state guidelines, including the Antiquities Code of Texas 1977 [revised 1987], Title 9, Chapter 191, VACS, Art. 6145-9, the City conducted a cultural resources file search for the proposed APE. This project was also permitted under a United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Nationwide Permit (#12—Utility Installation). As such, any cultural resource efforts fall under Section 106 guidelines of the National Historic Preservation Act. A cultural resources site file search was performed by TRC for the project APE in 2012. A THC consultation letter was submitted on May 18, 2012. TRC received a response from THC (No Survey Required. Project May Proceed.) on June 15, 2012.

On February 10, 2015, City of Seguin (City) encountered a previously unknown underground drainage structure within this project area during the construction a new 6x6 ft. box culvert under Court Street/U.S. Highway 90 Alternate approximately 250 ft. east of the intersection of Bauer St. and E. Court St. in Seguin, TX. The structure was made of limestone conglomerate rubble and transitioned to hand-made brick on both ends. The location is approximately 300 ft. west of the recorded site 41GU30 – Grafenstein Site (a prehistoric lithic scatter) – which is plotted on the west bank of King’s Branch. Upon discovery, the City stopped work immediately and contacted TRC cultural resources staff to contact Texas Historical Commission (THC) on what steps should be taken in regards to this inadvertent discovery.

Jeff Durst and Bill Martin (THC) were contacted on February 11, 2015 to discuss how this resource should be handled. It was unclear whether this would be treated as a historic structure (THC History Programs) or an archeological resource (because it was discovered below surface). Skipper Scott (archeologist, United USACE Fort Worth District) was also contacted as this effort was permitted under USACE jurisdiction. As the information was being reviewed, news came from the project engineer on February 12, 2015 that there was potential health and safety hazard as water was seeping into the underground culvert from the natural springs that fed the drainage. At that time, pumps were able to handle the water seepage but the future success of this effort was uncertain. We were advised by the engineer that we should visit the project location within the next day or two to ensure access. After some deliberation, it was decided by both THC and USACE that the culvert would be considered an archeological issue but would also be reviewed by THC History Programs.

TRC’s environmental staff visited the project location on February 13, 2015 to examine the structure and assess the potential impacts as a result of box culvert construction efforts. Given the materials used in its construction, it was estimated that the structure had been built sometime around late 19th to early 20th century timeframe. Archival research was performed to investigate structure function and historical significance. TRC concludes that this structure is most likely a drainage culvert that served to drain local spring water and collected storm water away from the existing transportation corridor (E. Court street and the adjacent neighborhood streets). No connections were found to aspects of historical significance (i.e., persons, setting, architecture, or historic research value), hence, this structure was deemed not eligible for nomination to the National Register of Historic Places. Due to safety concerns, the City, upon approval by the USACE and THC, filled the void with a reversible, flowable fill (i.e., grout) before continuing the box culvert installation.

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

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