Texas Historical Commission
On February 22 and March 9–10, 2015, SWCA Environmental Consultants (SWCA) conducted an intensive cultural resources survey with systematic hand and mechanical excavations along Farm-to-Market (FM) 121 in Grayson County, Texas. SWCA conducted these investigations for the Texas Department of Transportation Paris District for the proposed rehabilitation S curve realignment of FM 121. The work was conducted in compliance with Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA; 16 USC 470) and the Antiquities Code of Texas (ACT; 9 NRC 191). Jason Barrett served as Principal Investigator under Texas Antiquities Code Permit No. 7164.
The area of potential effects (APE) is defined as the 60- to 100-foot-wide (18- to 30-meterwide) FM 121 right-of-way, extending a distance of 7.4 miles (11.9 kilometers) between the towns of Gunter and Elmont, Texas, and 19.91 acres of new ROW for the S curve realignment section, or a total of 82 acres. The maximum depth of impacts is estimated to be up to 3 feet (90 centimeters [cm]) below the current ground surface for the entire project, although widening along the existing roadway will generally be accomplished through fillsection expansion. Subsurface impact below the current level of disturbance is not anticipated with fill-section expansion.
No previous cultural resources investigations had been conducted and no archaeological sites are documented within the APE. One potential historic-age structure is depicted within the APE on the 1936 Grayson County General Highway Map on the south side of FM 121; however, a review of current aerial imagery and field reconnaissance indicates that this structure is no longer extant.
SWCA archaeologists inspected the ground surface across the entire APE and excavated a total of six backhoe trenches and 19 shovel tests. Mechanical trenching was limited to the larger drainages (East Fork Trinity River and Squirrel Creek) crossed by the project alignment. Both drainages are situated against an interfluve landform with their floodplains (composing roughly 4.6 acres of the project area total) located to the west (East Fork Trinity River) or to the east (Squirrel Creek) of the respective waterways. Existing utilities precluded placement of additional trenches at Squirrel Creek where the ROW narrowed in the southeast quadrant. In addition, SWCA excavated 19 shovel tests within the APE. Given the level of existing disturbance and limited potential for subsurface impacts in areas of existing ROW characterized by upland terrain, shovel testing focused on areas of new ROW proposed for the addition of S curves to the roadway design.
The excavations at the East Fork Trinity River crossing encountered silt loam grading to silt clay loam with increasing amounts of calcium carbonate filaments and nodules and horizons of matrix-supported sub-angular limestone clast materials (pebbles and gravels) beginning at about 3.9 feet (118 centimeters below surface [cmbs]). The excavations at the Squirrel Creek crossing encountered clay loam grading to clay with vertical cracks and slickensides with some level of disturbance noted to a maximum of 2.6 feet (80 cmbs) and dense clay beginning at approximately 3 feet (90 cmbs).
No archaeological sites were documented within the APE. One site (41GS246), an early- to late-twentieth century farmstead, was identified adjacent to the APE, but has been severely disturbed by heavy equipment, lacks horizontal or vertical integrity, and can provide no new or beneficial information to local or regional history.
Given the results of the survey, SWCA recommends that no further cultural resources investigations are warranted within the existing ROW or the 19.6 acres of newly proposed ROW of FM 121. Although existing utilities restricted the amount of trenching that could be conducted in some areas, available exposures and trenches provided sufficient visibility to adequately assess the East Fork Trinity River and Squirrel Creek crossings.
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