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Archeological and Historical Investigations for the Proposed 323.0-acre City of Pflugerville Community Park and Athletic Complex, Pflugerville, Travis County, Texas
Texas Historical Commission
Horizon Environmental Services, Inc. (Horizon) was selected by Schrickel, Rollins and Associates, Inc. (SRA) on behalf of the City of Pflugerville to conduct an intensive cultural resources inventory and assessment of an approximately 130.7-hectare (323.0-acre) tract in Pflugerville, Travis County, Texas. This tract represents the proposed location of the City of Pflugerville Community Park and Athletic Complex, and it is located off the northeast side of Cameron Road approximately 1.9 miles (3.1 kilometers) southeast of its intersection with State Highway (SH) 130. For purposes of the cultural resources investigations, the project area was considered to consist of the entire 130.7-hectare (323.0-acre) tract.
The proposed undertaking is being sponsored by the City of Pflugerville, which represents a political subdivision of the state of Texas, on land owned by the City of Pflugerville; as such, the project falls under the jurisdiction of the Antiquities Code of Texas (Texas Natural Resources Code of 1977, Title 9, Chapter 191). No federal jurisdiction has been identified for the project at this time; however, the cultural resources investigations conducted within the project area would be suitable for review under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) of 1966 in the event that any federal jurisdiction is identified in the future. As the project represents a publicly sponsored undertaking with the potential to impact significant cultural resources, the City of Pflugerville was required to provide for a cultural resources inventory of the project area.
From April 5 to 6, 2016, Horizon archeologists Russell K. Brownlow, Jeffrey D. Owens, and Briana N. Smith, under the overall direction of Jeffrey D. Owens, Principal Investigator, performed an intensive cultural resources survey of the southern 98.3 hectares (243.0 acres) of the project area, which represented the portion of the larger project area to which the City of Pflugerville was able to provide access at that time. From July 20 to 22, Horizon archeologists Briana N. Smith and Jared Wiersema conducted an intensive cultural resources survey of the northern 32.4 hectares (80.0 acres) of the project area, which became accessible subsequent to completion of the initial fieldwork in April 2016. Horizon’s archeologists traversed the project area in parallel, linear transects spaced no more than 30.5 meters (100.0 feet) apart and thoroughly inspected the modern ground surface for aboriginal and historic-age cultural resources. The majority of the project area consists of a mix of cattle pastures and active agricultural fields that had been plowed but not yet planted for the season. Moderately densely wooded areas are present along the banks and terraces of Wilbarger Creek and one of its tributaries, which meander through the northern portion of the project area. Visibility of the modern ground surface was excellent in the agricultural fields (100%), though ground surface visibility in pastures and forested areas was obscured by vegetation (<30%).
In addition to pedestrian walkover, the Texas State Minimum Archeological Survey Standards (TSMASS) require the excavation of one shovel test per three acres for project areas measuring more than 80.9 hectares (200.0 acres) in size; thus, a minimum of 108 shovel tests were required within the 130.7-hectare (323.0-acre) project area to meet the TSMASS. Horizon excavated a total of 202 shovel tests during the survey, thereby exceeding the TSMASS for a project area of this size. The cultural resources survey was conducted under Texas Antiquities Permit No. 7608.
Five newly recorded archeological sites—41TV2518, 41TV2519, 41TV2520, 41TV2521, and 41TV2522—were documented within the project area during the survey, and one previously recorded archeological site—41TV2453—was reinvestigated and its boundaries were expanded. In addition, one cemetery—the Pfluger Cemetery (TV-C077)—was investigated during the survey. While prehistoric cultural components are present on two of the sites (41TV2453 and 41TV2520), the majority of the cultural resources documented during the survey are associated with mid-19th- to mid-20th-century farmsteads related to two of the founding German immigrant families of the area—the Pflugers and the Bohls. The City of Pflugerville intends not to disturb the Pfluger Cemetery during the proposed development and use of the property and to maintain a surrounding construction buffer of at least 7.6 meters (25.0 feet).
Based on the results of the survey-level investigations documented in this report, no potentially significant cultural resources would be affected by the proposed undertaking. In accordance with 36 CFR 800.4, Horizon has made a reasonable and good-faith effort to identify historic properties within the project area. No cultural resources were identified within the project area that meet the criteria for designation as State Antiquities Landmarks (SAL) according to 13 TAC 26, and no further archeological work is recommended in connection with the proposed undertaking. However, human burials, both prehistoric and historic, are protected under the Texas Health and Safety Code. In the event that any human remains or burial objects are inadvertently discovered at any point during construction, use, or ongoing maintenance in the project area, even in previously surveyed areas, all work should cease immediately in the vicinity of the inadvertent discovery, and the Texas Historical Commission (THC) should be notified immediately.
With further research to determine the integrity, the project area potentially could be considered part of a rural historic landscape. A rural historic landscape is defined by the National Park Service (NPS) as a geographical area that has historically been shaped or modified by human activity, occupancy, or intervention, and that possesses a significant concentration, linkage, or continuity of areas of land use, vegetation, buildings and structures, roads, waterways, and natural features. This level of evaluation would require a survey extending far beyond the physical boundaries of the current project area (and also including the project area), including intensive archival research to document the integrity of the landscape, historic and current land uses, topography, circulation patterns, vegetation, and archeology. The project area has historically functioned and currently functions as an agricultural property (though the dwellings on the property have been abandoned for decades), a gravel driveway and farm roads connect some of the recorded historic-age resources, the cemetery associated with the early settlers of the property is located within the project area, and neighboring parcels may have been part of the Pfluger family’s holdings at one time. For example, the farm complex located across Cameron Road from the project area was determined to be eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) based on a historical resources survey of northeastern Travis County prepared by Hicks & Company for the Travis County Historical Commission in 2010 entitled Historic Resource Survey of Northeast Travis County, Texas (Bound by SH 130, US 290 North, and East County Lines). The Hicks & Company report identified the Pfluger family farm within the current project area as a possible contributing element of a rural historic landscape requiring further research to document and assess its level of integrity. The project area therefore potentially could be considered part of a larger landscape that possesses historical significance. The Agricultural Theme Study for Central Texas, prepared by the Texas Department of Transportation’s (TxDOT) Historical Studies Branch of the Environmental Affairs Division, along with the National Park Service’s Guidelines for Evaluating and Documenting Rural Historic Landscapes, Bulletin No. 30, would provide useful guidance on evaluating the property and surrounding parcels as a historic landscape. However, evaluating the eligibility of the project area as a component of a potential rural historic landscape is outside the scope of the current project, and this level of evaluation does not fall within the jurisdiction of the Antiquities Code of Texas.
It should be noted that, while the standing National Folk house on site 41TV2453, designated as Resource 2, is herein recommended as ineligible for designation as an SAL and for inclusion in the NRHP, the City of Pflugerville has elected to proactively pursue a limited mitigative strategy regarding this structure. At the City of Pflugerville’s request, Horizon conducted a detailed documentation effort for this house. This process included collecting detailed measurements of the exterior and interior of the house that were used to produce measured drawings of exterior elevations and floor plans; taking numerous photographs of the building and keying the photographs to the measured drawings; and producing a detailed report noting the construction materials, architectural features, building description, and historical context. The architectural renderings and building documentation can be submitted to the THC as a courtesy under separate cover when the final draft of this report is submitted.
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