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Discovery means new bridge for county

Discovery means new bridge for county

Thursday, March 19, 2009
3/19/2009 3:31:23 AM

COLCORD — The discovery of 1,000-year-old artifacts near a decades-old bridge means that Delaware County will have to build a new bridge, County Commissioner Dave Kendrick said Wednesday.

A grinding basin and arrowheads that were uncovered in 2003 led to a six-year delay in planned repairs to a concrete bridge that was built by the Works Progress Administration in the 1930s.

Now, after receiving the preliminary results of an $180,000 follow-up study, the county plans to build a new bridge just west of the existing one, Kendrick said.

Excavation during a three-week period in late 2008 uncovered a total of 16,300 artifacts on both sides of Spavinaw Creek at the bridge on a county road northeast of Colcord.

In a field summary released Tuesday, environmental and engineering consulting firm AMEC Earth and Environment reported that artifacts found in November and December are 400 to 1,000 years old.

Archaeologists originally had projected the artifacts found in 2008 to be about 5,000 years old.

Although the bridge is safe for normal traffic, it isn't safe to drive heavy machinery across, Kendrick said.

Construction on a new bridge is expected to begin soon and cost at least $500,000, he said.

The artifacts can be preliminarily dated to the late Woodland to Village Farming periods, said Grant Day, senior archaeologist and project manager for AMEC.

Several small arrow points resemble those of the Mississippian culture but are linked to the Caddoan culture, Day said.

An estimated 4,000 descendants of the Caddo live in western Oklahoma, he said.

Achaeologists did not find evidence of building foundations, a trash pit or a well. Such findings would have allowed the site to be eligible for the National Register of Historic Places, Day said.

Much of the material recovered during excavation was flaking debris, "which is the material left over from tool-making," he said. Chert, a flintlike material, was found along the creek banks.

Archaeologists think the area likely was a seasonal hunting location.

Day said what is now the creek bed likely was the campsite and that the course of the creek changed over hundreds of years.

A final report should be finished by the end of the year, Day said.

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