Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Historical Archaeology

I come up for an overnight, but find the farm winterized with the water turned off to prevent frozen pipes, and for the life of me, I cannot trace the plumbing back to the missing valve.  So, it will be a day trip this time.

I head out to the lower beach, the wandering ritual of greeting the farm in order since a short trip to Chicago and the resulting "airplane head cold" have kept me away for too long.  The farm is beginning to be an integrated art project for me...it is becoming a piece of daily life.  Last week when I could not get to the farm, I worked steadily boxing specimens that I had brought home with me.  My "empty" time is spent thinking about how to approach new finds and new ideas that the farm has germinated. 

I find those scrapes again on the road on the way to the river.  Scrapes are outside of my knowledge base and I cannot tell if they are cat or deer or something else.  I need a track with a scrape to get there.  I almost forget to slow up and walk soft as I reach the river...I scare a young eagle off of its perch on the far side of the river.  The salmon run is finished now and there are just a few carcasses left at the water's edge.  In exchanged there are a dozen or so complete backbones laying in the rocks.  There are few tracks today, just some deer and coyote.  Recent rain has wiped the slate clean, but the reduction in free food is also bringing fewer visitors.

I drop a sample pear tree branch (there are 4 pear trees very close to the location of the Dan Baker homestead site) at the barn and head out to look for the squatters cabin.  There is a cool down valley wind with an overcast sky that doesn't look like it will last the day.  The trees are still brilliant in fall colors..that is those that are out of the path of regular winds.

This time, when I go to the cabin, I take compass bearings, pace distances and record additional CMT's (culturally modified trees) and landmark trees (like a 3-1/2 foot diameter maple).  I have very little trouble finding the cabin this time...but, yes, it is very hard to spot from 50 yards away.  In fact, if you weren't looking for it, you would not notice it.   It is built up against a boulder that is nearly the same size as the cabin itself.

note the green asphalt shingle decorative stripes

I photograph and measure the exterior features.  Once inside, I just stand and study everything that I can see without touching.  I expected to find a name somewhere on the wall, but I only find a date, 6/14/1958, which is too old to be the construction date in my opinion.  The Smoke Farm visitors have left the interior unpilfered and I find a few scraps of newspaper on the floor.  I can't find a by-line date, but I am fortunate to have a piece of automobile want ad.  There is nothing newer than 1971 listed, which doesn't confirm, but does line up with my original guess of a mid-70's build date.  It is a successful exploration and the only thing that I don't find is the state land corner monument that I ran into on my last visit.

1 comment:

  1. I know it wasn't there in '58...am thinking your 70s guess is more accurate.. Most of "us kids" were gone by then, so no hiking around in the woods. :)