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An Intensive Archeological Survey of the Owl Hills-Tunstill 138-KV Transmission Line Route
Texas Historical Commission
Oncor Electric Delivery Company, LLC (Oncor) is planning to construct the Owl Hills—Tunstill 138-kV Transmission Line Route in Culberson, Reeves and Loving Counties, Texas. Oncor contracted with Halff Associates, Inc. to conduct an intensive pedestrian survey of 18.5 miles of new 138-kV transmission line on private property. The survey was conducted January 20-24, 2020 and a total of 102 shovel tests were excavated in areas where buried archeological deposits where expected, and two 15-meter (32.8-foot) transects underwent pedestrian survey within the 70-foot (21.3-meter) wide survey corridor, which measures approximately 157 acres.
Three archeological sites (41RV208, 41RV209 and 41RV213) were identified and recorded during the archeological survey. Site 41RV208 is a prehistoric occupation containing a surface deposit of 12 lithic debitage, 6 flake tools, 6 cores, 2 groundstone fragments and 40 fire cracked rocks (FCR). The site is situated on a gravelly and deflated upland that forms the western rim of the Pecos River valley. Site 41RV209 consists of a prehistoric occupation containing a surface deposit of 12 FCR, 6 lithic debitage, 3 flake tools, 2 cores, 1 uniface, and 1 biface. This site is situated on the heavily eroded west bank of Salt Creek and has been disturbed by construction activities associated with an adjacent pipeline corridor. Site 41RV213 is an abandoned section of the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe (ATSF) Railway that parallels U.S. Highway 285 to the east. The section of railroad in the surveyed area has undergone extensive disturbance and consists of a narrow linear piling of fill, railroad gravels and non-descript metal debris. It is Halff’s recommendation that sites 41RV208, 41RV209 and 41RV213 are ineligible for National Register of Historic Places consideration in the surveyed area and no further cultural resources investigations are warranted for the project.
While shovel testing within the lower terraces of the Pecos River valley floor resulted in negative findings, most of the shovel tests in this area did not encounter restrictive deposits soil or geologic deposits that antedate the Holocene. Therefore, the installation of the transmission line poles located along the lower alluvial terraces of the Pecos River was recommended for archeological monitoring. Halff recommends that construction of the remainder of the proposed transmission line route be allowed to proceed and that no additional archaeological investigations are recommended outside of the monitoring area. However, if the proposed transmission line route alignment changes, additional archeological survey may be necessary. In addition, should any cultural resources be discovered during the construction or maintenance activities associated with the project, work in the immediate area shall cease and the Texas Historical Commission be notified of the discovery.
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