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Agency

Texas Historical Commission

Abstract

On behalf of the Texas Department of Transportation, SWCA Environmental Consultants (SWCA) conducted an intensive cultural resources survey with mechanical trenching from August 16–18, 2017, on 226 acres of existing right-of-way (ROW) along State Highway (SH) 72 in McMullen County, Texas. Because the project will receive funding from the Federal Highways Administration, it qualifies as an undertaking as defined in Title 36 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 800.16(y) and, therefore, survey was conducted in compliance with Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (54 U.S. Code 306108). Furthermore, the project must also comply with the Antiquities Code of Texas (9 Natural Resources Code 191). Eric Oksanen served as Principal Investigator under Texas Antiquities Permit No. 8120.

The area of potential effects (APE) is defined as the existing 120-foot-wide ROW for a length of approximately 15.56 miles. The lane improvements within the 226-acre APE will include the addition of passing lanes throughout the project, and the widening of a turn lane near the eastern terminus.

A background literature review determined that portions of the APE have been previously surveyed for cultural resources and seven archeological sites are within the APE (Texas Historical Commission 2017a). However, three of the seven sites within the APE (i.e., 41MC623, 41MC590, and 41MC598) have been evaluated and found to be not eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP). The remaining four previously identified archeological sites (i.e., 41MC369, 41MC370, 41MC371, and 41MC372) have an undetermined eligibility for listing in the NRHP or designation as a State Antiquities Landmark (SAL). In addition to the sites within the APE, 28 previously recorded sites are located directly adjacent to the existing ROW. All but two of the 28 adjacent sites are not eligible for the NRHP, whereas the remaining two sites have an undetermined eligibility.

The survey identified substantial disturbances within the APE, including prior infrastructure development, such as utilities and roads, and a variety of other land use practices. SWCA assessed the entire 226-acre survey area, but focused on the four sites within the direct APE that have an undetermined eligibility (i.e., 41MC369, 41MC370, 41MC371, and 41MC372). SWCA excavated 11 backhoe trenches (BHTs) and one 75-meter-long scrape (equivalent to 33 BHTs) near 41MC372 to assess the potential for burials within the four sites. The survey identified sparse lithic material, consisting of lithic flakes and tested cobbles, as well as few burned rocks within the back dirt and/or on the ground surface of all four sites within the heavily disturbed existing SH 72 ROW. Additionally, SWCA archeologists observed one sublanceolate point (Angostura-like) on the surface of 41MC371 within the existing ROW, while sparse faunal remains were identified within the upper 10 cm at site 41MC372. Due to the heavy disturbance observed throughout the existing ROW and the lack of intact subsurface deposits and cultural materials, all four evaluated sites (41MC369–41MC372) are recommended to be NOT ELIGIBLE for listing on the NRHP or for designation as SALs, and no further archeological investigations are recommended.

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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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