On a side note, I love my new (used) camera!
A few weeks ago, I went out to Wetumka on a project. As you probably already know, I'm a sucker for old buildings.
My best guess is that this was some sort of water treatment facility, but I really have no idea.
I liked the colors and contrast of this sink, which was inside the building and up the stairs.
The exterior of the building. No idea what's going on with the architecture here.
And a beautiful sunflower to close out the post. It was growing right outside the building.
On a side note, I love my new (used) camera!
A couple of days ago, I loaded up a car and drove around southwestern Oklahoma. Totally work-related. I needed to check out a potential traditional cultural property, to look for a relocated bridge, and to meet with the folks over at the Comanche Nation.
This is what I got to walk through. Overgrown, and not much to see, except for someone's deer stand. And judging by the poop I spotted in several different places, they picked a good spot for that stand.
A few flowers were blooming, but begrudgingly. Turns out that there was no traditional cultural property to be found, which is a good thing. There were, however, ticks to be found, not such a good thing.
After leaving the woods, I stopped by Trivets Restaurant in Elgin. If you are ever in the vicinity of Elgin, stop at Trivets and eat some pie. You'll be glad that you did.
My next stop was the community of Faxon. There's not much to Faxon. I was looking for a relocated historic bridge. This is not the bridge that I was looking for, but I took a picture of it anyway.
I drove all over town and took pictures of interesting things, like the abandoned playground at the school
Sort of a bleak beauty to the place.
This building has obviously seen better days.
It turned 100 years old last year.
I know 100 years isn't all that old for a building, but to put that into context, Oklahoma had only been a state for 3 years when this building was constructed.
Another building up the street was in similar disrepair. At one time, it was a grocery store and filling station, with a staking rink to boot!
Scenes from the movie Fast Charlie... the Moonbeam Rider, starring David Carradine, were filmed here. Reportedly, that's when "Hotel - Weekly Rates" was painted on the side of the building.
More recently, someone started to renovate the building into a bar and converted the original windows into wagon wheel portholes.
This old gas station was on the other side of Faxon. It reminds me of the a store near where I grew up. The floors were wood, and the soda pops were in chest-style coolers.
On the way out of town, I came across this building. I really liked the shadows on the wall.
Finally, I made my way to Lawton and had a great (and productive) meeting with my friends over at the Comanche Nation. It's always nice to catch up with them.
And on the way out of Lawton, I stopped for this lovely sign.
So, there's a day in the life of ODOT's Tribal Liaison -- tromping through the woods, exploring small towns, and meeting with tribal folks. What a great job!
As I was going through the files on my camera, I came across some more photos from the excavations out at 34GT47.
Here's Lauren, our fearless leader, telling us the day's work plan. And that's Kristina, enacting said plan.
As you can see here, we were working in a very small area, limited by ODOT's right of way. The white string in the lower right corner marks the right of way line. The site actually extends far beyond the right of way, though.
The site is eroding out of the slope. Here, you can see the dark brown soil containing cultural deposits contrasted with the sterile red clay below it.
Another slope shot. It really sucked when equipment would roll down the slope.
I worked on a unit containing a deep pit. I could basically stand in it and barely see out of it.
Another pit shot, facing south instead of north this time.
For the past several weeks, and maybe a week or two more, a team of archaeologists from the Oklahoma Department of Transportation's Cultural Resources Program have worked at 34GT47, a prehistoric village site in Grant County. By "team" I mean anyone in the office who was willing to go out and get dirty for the day. Lauren O'Shea is our fearless leader (and public relations specialist -- more on that later).
Only a tiny sliver of the site is in ODOT right of way, so the area in which we can work is very limited. We've got some points and flakes, several pieces of pottery, animal bones and mussel shells, and lots of daub (i.e., clay used to cover the walls of houses). We're working in what might be a trash pit, and we're hoping to work on a couple of more units so that we'll know for sure.
We've had really fantastic community support and interest in the work. Almost every day that we've been out there, a few people have stopped by to see what we're doing. And then one day, the local newspaperman visited, and Lauren graciously gave him an extended tour of the site. He snapped a couple of photos and listened as Lauren described the site and its importance. A couple of days later, the landowners dropped off a copy of the Medford Patriot-Star, and we'd made the front page.
At the time the photo was taken, this unit went to about 40 cm below the surface. The last time I worked out there, I'd gotten it down about another 100 cm. To help you visualize that, when I stand up in the unit, the ground level comes to my chest. In other words, this is the biggest and deepest hole I've ever dug, and I've dug a lot of holes.
This is Lauren screening dirt, which is usually a pretty fun job, except when the wind is gusting at 45 mph. When dirt flies at 45 mph, it really hurts, but I like to think of it as all-natural dermabrasion.
Now, the newspaper guy wrote up a nice little article to accompany these pictures, but I'm not including it here for a couple of reasons.
First, he accurately describes the site's location. We're along a state highway, so it's not a closely guarded secret, and everyone in the area sees us on their way to town. However, I'd rather not put that information on the internet, for the sake of the site's integrity. And for the sake of the landowner's cows. I wouldn't want them breaking their legs in some pot hunters' looted-out holes.
And second, the guy from the paper got a few things wrong, and I'd rather not perpetuate the misinformation. I will take the opportunity to clarify some points, though.
We taken some samples of charcoal at various depths and will send it to a lab for dating. Based on the projectile points we've found, though, the site is probably 1,000 years old.
So, that's what has kept me so busy over the last few weeks. Usually we go out there for the day and come back in the afternoon, but have done several more extended stays. If you're ever in Ponca City, I recommend the monster-sized margaritas at El Patio. They really hit the spot after a day in the sun and dirt.
Rhonda S. Fair
I am a cultural anthropologist, currently employed
as the Tribal Liaison for the Oklahoma Department of Transportation. This
position gives me the opportunity to apply my ethnographic training, as well as
do archaeological fieldwork. I am also on the faculty of the University of
Oklahoma's College of Liberal Studies.