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Agency

Texas Historical Commission

Abstract

Between 19 October and 11 November 2015, SEARCH conducted National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) eligibility determinations at previously recorded archaeological sites at Wright Patman Lake in Bowie and Cass Counties, Texas. This project was conducted under Contract W912HY-11-D-0002, Task Order 0006, between the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Fort Worth District, and SEARCH.

The USACE, Fort Worth District, is proposing to raise and operate the current pool level at Wright Patman Lake to 228.64 feet (ft) above mean sea level (amsl), thereby meeting the Ultimate Rule Curve for the provision of water to the local area. The purpose of this project was to provide systematic testing through pedestrian survey and the excavation of shovel tests and 50-x-50-centimeter (cm) test units at a minimum of 15 previously recorded archaeological sites within the areas of potential effect of the Ultimate Rule Curve. The goal of this project was to determine if these unassessed (NRHP-eligibility undetermined) archaeological resources were ineligible for listing in the NRHP, required additional testing to determine NRHP status, or could not be evaluated because of inundation or inability to relocate the resource.

During fieldwork, SEARCH archaeologists visited 20 archaeological sites. Four sites (41BW42, 41CS55, 41CS78, and 41CS109) are recommended for additional work to evaluate each resource’s NRHP status and mitigate adverse effects of the proposed pool rise for meeting the Ultimate Rule Curve, while two sites (41CS73 and 41CS79) do not meet the Secretary of the Interior’s criteria for listing in the NRHP and no further work is recommended. Twelve (41BW69, 41BW77, 41CS48, 41CS58, 41CS76, 41CS95/96, 41CS108, 41CS110, 41CS117, 41CS118, 41CS122, and 41CS123) of the remaining 14 sites could not be fully examined based on complete or partial inundation by current and rising pool levels at Wright Patman Lake. As a result, the NRHP status of these sites remains undetermined until such time as the submerged deposits can be evaluated. The remaining two sites (41BW26 and 41CS16) were not evaluated as it was determined based on site elevation that these resources are outside of the proposed Ultimate Rule Curve Area of Potential Effect (APE).

Site 41BW42 is a small multicomponent site on an easterly projecting peninsula near the area that serves as Elliot Bluff boat landing today. The historic component consists of a small collection of glass fragments, ceramic sherds, and other miscellaneous items. The Native American component is much more robust and shows evidence of horizontal clustering. The assemblage is dominated by lithic artifacts that include a relatively large amount of lithic debitage along with formal and expedient tools. A very small quantity of Native American pottery sherds was also recovered from the exposed shoreline; however, the artifact collection is more likely the result of a preceramic occupation in the area. The quantity of artifacts in such discrete area could be the result of multiple small-scale occupations (e.g., camp sites or resources extraction locations) through time or a larger logistics station aimed at providing access to lower reaches of the Sulphur River prior to inundation. The artifact assemblage, examined in tandem with absolute dating methods (radiocarbon or thermoluminescence), has the potential to offer insight into the lithic economy of Native American inhabitants of the site. Furthermore, the contextual integrity of the soils across the upper terrace, though slightly deflated from erosional processes during high water episodes at the lake, is relatively intact.

Site 41CS55 is a large Native American site on a low sandbar/island surrounded by Wright Patman Lake. The large quantity of lithic debitage along with grog-tempered pottery sherds, lithic tools, and faunal and botanical remains suggest that site 41CS55 was a sizable Caddo occupation overlooking the Sulphur River prior to the inundation of the lake. The discernible concentrations of artifacts in the northern and central portions of the site suggest differential use of space, a typical hallmark of larger occupations such as villages or hamlets. The artifact assemblage, examined in tandem with absolute dating methods (radiocarbon or thermoluminescence), has the potential to offer insight into the daily lifestyle of Native American inhabitants of the site.

Site 41CS78 is a large Native American site on a low a low terrace on the south shore of Wright Patman Lake. The artifact assemblage includes a relatively large collection of lithic debitage with a smaller quantity of formal lithic tools, fire-cracked rock, Native American pottery sherds, and faunal remains. The discernible concentrations of artifacts in the eastern and western portions of the site suggest differential use of space, and, in this case, the homogeneity of both assemblages may represent a series of smaller occupations along the landform edge. The artifact assemblage, examined in tandem with absolute dating methods (radiocarbon or thermoluminescence), has the potential to offer insight into the lithic economy of Native American inhabitants of the site. It is the recommendation of SEARCH that additional work be performed to mitigate adverse effects of the proposed pool rise for meeting the Ultimate Rule Curve.

A relatively large portion of site 41CS109 was inundated by rising lake levels at Wright Patman Lake. Exposed portions of the site and the adjacent uplands were tested to determine if intact cultural deposits existed within and adjacent to the defined boundary. One flake was recovered from subsurface context. The remaining large collection of debitage and lithic tools were encountered on the surface and mostly along the exposed beach. The assemblage is dominated by lithic artifacts that include a large amount of lithic debitage along with formal and expedient tools. The Kent and Gary projectile points indicate a potential Middle Archaic to Early Woodland cultural affiliation for the site. The artifact assemblage, examined in tandem with absolute dating methods (radiocarbon or thermoluminescence), has the potential to offer insight into the lithic economy of Native American inhabitants of the site. It is the recommendation of SEARCH that additional work be performed to mitigate adverse effects of the proposed pool rise for meeting the Ultimate Rule Curve.

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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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