Prairie Archaeology

Saturday I continued to dig with the idea that I would level the bottom of the pit at the height of the “alluvial gravels” from whence I believed the spring to sprung.

As I made another wagon-load of dirt, I came upon a large and heavy rock. Interesting, let’s keep going. A few more large nails and then the remains of a ceramic a light socket.

All kinds of weird things fall into the well, I thought to myself…

Down in the middle of the gravels was a fist-size rock that was wet on the bottom when I pulled it out.

Then I hit a larger object that was not of natural origin, and more gravel, and then more and more as I chased my way to the bottom of it and revealed an old terra-cotta pipe.

What?

Was this an early attempt to harvest the spring water? And so I kept digging, leaving myself a ledge about eighteen inches down so I could step-up.

It’s easy to dig yourself into a hole that’s had to exit, and I was already throwing shovel-dirt at shoulder height.

Deciding to err on the side of caution and Science, I got out of the hole and went back up to the garage to get my Marshalltown archaeology trowel and continue what had now become an excavation.

What was revealed was a short length of four-inch clay pipe, and another larger one coming into it that was about eight inches, and a third four-inch pipe at right angles.

I managed to get the short length of 4″ pipe out intact, and it was about half-full with gravel.

Above the short section where the rest of it continued, you can see a layer of fine gravel packed on top, then dirt and sod at the surface level.

The larger eight-inch section one broke apart lifting it out, and it was heavy with sediment.

It appears my “spring” is really an old drain of some sort, going from a large diameter down to a smaller – and with a side-pipe going off into the distance.

It’s coming from who-knows-where and going to who-knows-what – but with the break in the old joints and the pipes silted-up, water arises forth still.

What is (still) feeding it, or rather how is it still getting moisture to it? When did they stop using clay pipe for this sport of thing, back in the 40’s?

Still have to finish this off somehow, so the circle of block might become a little taller, and maybe I’ll just fill-in the hole with medium-sized rock then a foot or so of gravel on top, so it can still bubble up water and keep the birds and wildlife happy.