Texas Historical Commission
Parker County proposes to build the eastern segment of a loop north of the City of Weatherford, in Parker County, Texas). This portion of the loop, designated East Loop, is approximately 6.65 miles long. It begins at the intersection of the eastern terminus of the Ric Williamson Memorial Highway (or West Loop) at State Highway 51 north of the city. The proposed route continues eastward for approximately 4 miles, crosses Farm-to-Market 730 before turning south for approximately 2 miles, crosses US Highway 180 at Center Point Road, and follows Center Point Road to terminate at Interstate Highway 20.
The East Loop project is owned and funded by Parker County. As a political subdivision of the State of Texas, Parker County is required to comply with the Antiquities Code of Texas (9 Texas Natural Resources Code 191). A permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) is also required for the proposed project. Therefore, the USACE, as a federal agency, has the responsibility for complying with Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA), as amended (Section 106). Section 106 requires consideration of the effects of the proposed project on properties listed in, or determined eligible for, the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP), and ultimately designation as a State Antiquities Landmark (SAL).
Freese and Nichols, Inc., the design and environmental consultant to Parker County, contracted with Cox|McLain Environmental Consulting, Inc. (CMEC), to conduct the intensive archeological and reconnaissance historic resources surveys necessary for compliance with the Antiquities Code and Section 106. Melissa M. Green (Principal Investigator) and Brett Lang carried out the archeological survey for Parker County under Texas Antiquities Permit 8127, and Emily Reed and Izabella Dennis conducted the historic resources survey; all are staff of CMEC. Fieldwork was conducted in September 2017.
Widths of the proposed roadway vary between 120 and 390 feet, but the average width is 200 feet. The archeological area of potential effects (APE) consists of the entire 195.39-acre footprint of new location roadway and a 600-foot long, 30-foot wide drainage ditch easement added to the project for a total 196.62-acre APE. The historic resources APE consists of a 300-foot-wide buffer area around the proposed project corridor.
The APE is located primarily on uplands but crosses Willow Creek, Holder Branch, Underwood Branch, and a number of small intermittent channels. The land is mostly undeveloped with some residential/commercial areas, particularly near each terminus, that will be impacted. Ground surfaces within the APE were mostly covered in grasses, allowing for some limited visibility ranging from 0 to 30 percent, though ground visibility in forested areas and eroded pastures allowed for higher ground visibility at 70 to 100 percent. Existing impacts to the project corridor include residential and commercial development, buried utilities and other infrastructures associated with the developments, oil and gas production and storage, stock tank construction, livestock grazing or training, and erosion resulting from all of the above.
A total of 48 shovel test units were excavated judgmentally across the area of potential effects; 36 were sterile for cultural materials and 12 were associated with sites. Initially, right-of-entry was not allowed on several individual parcels representing approximately 2.14 miles (48.29 acres) of the proposed corridor during the original survey in September 2017, but were investigated in June and July of 2018 once right-of-entry was granted. Potential for prehistoric archeological deposits in the area of potential effects is considered low, and the potential for historic deposits is considered moderate.
The proposed roadway corridor partially impacts previously recorded sites 41PR163/41PR164, 41PR165, and 41PR166, as well as the NRHP-listed Byron Farmstead Historic District. The district comprises 85.5 acres with three recorded archeological sites (41PR163, 41PR164, now combined, and 41PR166), or contributing elements, within its boundary. All of these sites were revisited during the survey. Although located outside of the project corridor, site 41PR163, the original log cabin of the Byron Farmstead, and site 41PR164, the later bungalow on the farmstead were visited due to their close proximity to the project and to help assess the indirect impacts to these sites and contributing elements of the historic district. Based on the field visit, the boundaries of sites 41PR163 and 41PR164 have been adjusted and combined and now include a previously unrecorded dairy location, but contributing element to the district, within the new combined site limit (41PR163/41PR164). Since site 41PR163/41PR164 is already a contributing element of the Byron Farmstead Historic District, it is recommended for designation as a SAL. Site 41PR166 is the dairy operation owned by a separate family member and not originally a contributing element to the district. The site is mostly intact and retains most of its integrity. It has now been recommended as a contributing element to the historic district, and ultimately for SAL designation, demonstrating the long-time use of the larger property for and family commitment to cattle and dairying. Site 41PR166 will be partially impacted by the proposed road corridor. In addition to the archeological sites located on the Byron Farmstead Historic District, there are three contributing buildings, two contributing structures, one contributing site, and one noncontributing site. For unknown reasons, an additional 13 resources located within the historic district’s boundary were not documented in the NRHP nomination form or assigned contributing/non-contributing status. As a result of this survey, eight of the previously undocumented resources are recommended as contributing and five are recommended as non-contributing to the Byron Farmstead Historic District. Due to the construction of the proposed roadway through the Byron Farmstead Historic District, there would be an adverse effect on the district by diminishing the integrity of feeling, setting, and association.
Although previously recorded site 41PR165, remnants of a small farmstead, would be partially impacted by the proposed roadway corridor, the site as a whole was not investigated during this survey so it is unknown if any of the remaining components would add any additional information concerning cattle ranching in the area. Therefore, its NRHP eligibility or designation as an SAL is recommended as unknown.
One additional historic site, 41PR185, was recorded during the survey. This site is a mid- to late twentieth century farmstead on a hilltop west of Holder Branch measuring 35 meters east/west by 55 meters north/south. The site is composed of a collapsed rock root cellar, rock and mortar pile, six fence posts, and large sections of sheet metal siding. The site will be entirely impacted by the proposed construction and is recommended as not eligible for listing in the NRHP or for SAL designation.
All materials (notes, photographs, administrative documents, and other project data) generated from this work will be housed at the Center for Archaeological Studies at Texas State University in San Marcos, where they will be made permanently available to future researchers per 13 Texas Administrative Code 26.16-17.
CMEC submitted the previous version of this report to the Texas Historical Commission (THC) on March 1, 2018, for review. In the response letter dated March 30, 2018, THC concurred with the eligibility recommendations for the historic resources and requested additional information regarding recorded archeological sites. THC also requested further review of the applicability of Section 106 in relationship to the USACE areas of jurisdiction (Appendix B). Since that time, USACE has indicated Section 106 is applicable to the Byron Farmstead Historic District, and CMEC has been granted access to previously inaccessible parcels to complete the archeological survey. This version of the report has been updated to provide additional information from the archeological survey and to reflect the applicability of Section 106, including an assessment of effects to historic properties and archeological sites. Continued coordination between the USACE, Parker County, the City of Weatherford, and the THC is anticipated in order to satisfy all Section 106 requirements associated with this project but is not detailed in this report.
If any unanticipated cultural materials or deposits are found at any stage of clearing, preparation, or construction, the work should cease and THC personnel should be notified immediately.
The THC concurred with the results and recommendations of this report on December 12, 2018.
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