Friday, March 23, 2007

March 22, 2007

Hello, everyone. It is getting hotter in the islands as summer approaches, but the Cultural Resources Team here at Virgin Islands National Park is finding ourselves outside in the field more often than in the air-conditioned office. Today, we made big strides concerning the Hassel Island Restoration Project. Two conservators from Texas A&M University, Peter Fix and graduate student Drew, flew in on the seaplane from Puerto Rico at 9 a.m. to assess the metal artifacts associated with the historic Creque Marine Railway. Ken, Susanna, and I lead them around the site and they were excited (and probably a little overwhelmed) to see the abundance of historic marine artifacts in desperate need of stabilization. For example, the rails of the railway are still intact as well as the gears, the fly wheel, and the boilers of the steam engine that would have hoisted the large ships up out of the water to be worked on. A beautiful, old dive bell is located near the engine house that would have been used to work on the ships while still in the water. Remember, Creque is the oldest steam-powered marine railway in the Western hemisphere and it is the only one surviving in the world.I am positive the public would love to visit and learn about this significant site and I can only imagine what Hassel Island will look like once vegetation removal, artifact conservation, and building stabilization has been completed. The conservation plans generated from today’s trip serve as a first step in this process, and hopefully the next steps will be soon forthcoming.
In other news, excavations at Cinnamon Bay have also had some progress. We have finally made it through the culturally sterile sand and have uncovered the first prehistoric/ historic surface. The contrasting colors of the two layers is one reason why we believe we have reached culturally significant sediment—the sterile sand is white whereas the sediment is dark brown and compacted into a very hard, discernible surface. Tomorrow, we will start to excavate the surface and who knows what we will find!

This week, Peter Burgess was once again a great help. We have been trying to identify more of the Jochumsdal historic plantation site this month. Chuck Pishko had informed us there was a grave, but we had yet to locate it. Peter found the grave and more. He deduced that the crypt is in the center of the plantations's animal mill. Thanks Peter for sending us the information needed to go right to the site and complete the documentation process.
I hope everyone is staying warm up north and I’ll see you next week.

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