Texas Historical Commission
The Port of Calhoun, LLC. is planning to construct a commercial facility for transporting and storing sand. The facility includes the construction of a number of onshore deadmen for barge mooring, a bulkhead for loading and unloading barges, buildings for sand storage, and an area for the disposal of dredge material. Because the project will involve the placement of fill within the ordinary high water mark of the Victoria Barge Canal, the project will require a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Galveston District (Corps). Since the issuance of this permit is a federal undertaking, the Corps must comply with Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act. In addition, because the project occurs within an easement owned or controlled by a political subdivision of the State of Texas (West Calhoun County Navigation District), the Navigation District must also comply with the Antiquities Code of Texas. Because the Port of Calhoun, LLC requires these approvals for the development of these facilities, the Corps and the Navigation District have required the Port of Calhoun to comply with these regulations. Previous communication with the Corps identified specific components of the project as occurring within the “permit area.” These include the onshore deadmen localities, the bulkhead, which also both occur in the Navigation Districts easement. The dredge disposal area occurs in the Corps’ permit area, and is not part of the Navigation District’s easement.
Records on file with the State of Texas indicated that on or about 1989, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers conducted an archeological survey along the Victoria Barge Canal and recorded a number of archeological sites along the northeast shore. One of the sites documented, 41CL77, borders along the north bank of the canal on the Port of Calhoun LLC property. Subsequent archeological investigations at the site in 1995 found that 41CL77 was comprised of an extensive prehistoric shell midden deposit dating to the Late Prehistoric Period (ca. AD 1,000 – 1,500). As a result of these investigations the site was recommended as eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places, and therefore the site should be preserved in place, and impact to it must be mitigated by avoidance of the site deposits, or under an archeological data recovery program.
During the survey of the permit area along the bank of the canal, archeological deposits were visible locally along the surface. A number of backhoe trenches and shovel tests were excavated and the examination of the resultant trench profiles found modern trash lying underneath what appeared to be zones of archeological deposits. This indicated that the archeological deposits along the low bank of the canal were secondary and that they likely washed in from adjacent primary deposits located upslope along the crest of the adjacent bluff that overlooks the canal. Despite the finding that archeological deposits along the bank appear disturbed, the fact that intact deposits occur within 75-feet of onshore deadmen localties A, B, and along the western half of C (Figure 6), suggests that construction activities within those areas could adversely impact significant archeological deposits associated with site 41CL77 along the bluff. Under these circumstances it is recommended that a 25-foot buffer zone be placed around the perimeter of site 41CL77, and as long as construction activities within the permit area are able to avoid impacting the site, the project should be allowed to proceed as planned. However, if impact to the site cannot be avoided, then those impacts should be mitigated with an appropriate archeological data recovery program.
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