Texas Historical Commission


Project Control (the CLIENT) working on behalf of the City of San Antonio contracted with Raba Kistner Environmental, Inc. (RKEI), for the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center Expansion Project, to perform archaeological investigations and monitoring associated with the installation of a gas line and gas tie-in within the boundaries of the Convention Center. The proposed gas line route had the potential to encounter a Spanish Colonial acequia, known as the Acequia Madre de Valero or the Acequia Madre del Valero (41BX8). The acequia is a Spanish Colonial irrigation ditch dating to approximately 300 years before present. Recent investigations have found that the acequia split to form two branches south of the project area. The branch running through the project area is referred to as the Acequia de Valero. Project Control requested that RKEI monitor the trenching associated with the gas line installation to ensure that the feature was not impacted during trenching. Another goal of the archaeological monitoring was to document the feature if encountered.

Additional services related to the re-discovery of the acequia were suggested at this time. The COSA-OHP and THC recommended that a Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) survey be implemented in an effort to determine the location of the acequia. Trenching followed after the GPR data was processed in an effort to relocate the portion of the Acequia Madre del Alamo (41BX8) passing through the property. Once sections of the acequia were uncovered, RKEI was present on site to monitor grading activities to ensure that area of the acequia alignment was not impacted. These services were added to the initial scope and permit obtained for the archaeological monitoring of the gas line installation.

During later grading activities during the Convention Center Expansion Project, contractors encountered a stone-line well. The City of San Antonio Office of Historic Preservation (COSA-OHP) and the Texas Historical Commission (THC) requested that the well be documented prior to backfilling.

The gas line monitoring was conducted over the course of two days in mid-October 2016. The documenting of the historic well, exploratory trenching for the acequia, and monitoring of the grading activities was conducted during late November 2016 to early January 2017. All portions of the investigations were conducted under Texas Antiquities Permit Number 7813. Steve A. Tomka served as the Principal Investigator. Kristi Miller Nichols was the Project Archaeologist during the gas line installation. Mark P. Luzmoor served as Project Archaeologist during the exploratory trenching for the Acequia Madre del Alamo. The GPR survey was conducted by Kristi Miller Nichols. Field crew consisted of Cyndi Dickey, Zaneta McCoy, and Chris Matthews.

The acequia was not encountered while RKEI monitored the gas line or the storm drain utility installations. Fifteen backhoe trenches were excavated within the project area to relocate the route of the Acequia Madre del Alamo. The acequia was encountered in six of the 15 trenches. The acequia was documented and location recorded in the areas where it was encountered. Based on historic maps, the presence of the acequia in six trenches, and the location of the Acequia Madre del Alamo encountered by UTSA-CAR within Hemisfair Park and the St. Joseph’s Catholic Church Property, a probable alignment of the acequia was mapped. Due to the intact nature of sections of the acequia encountered during the backhoe trenching, the sections of 41BX8 uncovered during this portion of the project are potentially eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places, as well as a State Antiquities Landmark.

At the completion of the grading at the Henry B. Gonzales Convention Center, RKEI recommended further evaluation and investigations to determine the exact route of the Acequia Madre del Alamo throughout the APE. Another phase to the investigation occurred at the start of the construction of Civic Park. Since all work was conducted under the same antiquities permit, this report is Volume 1 of two volumes, containing the results of the investigations leading up to the end of the Convention Center Expansion Project. A second volume of the report discusses the investigations associated with the Civic Park Project.

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Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License
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