New Mississippi River Bridge Project: Feature 2000 Preservation Plan
In the summer of 2011, ISAS project personnel unexpectedly encountered cultural deposits of a different sort, the basal portion of a mound, designated as Feature 2000. Large numbers of mounds were formerly associated with the East St. Louis Mound Center site, but only 15 remained by the 1870s and most of these were eventually destroyed or truncated. Notably, the newly discovered mound location does not correlate with any of the known mounds. Most of the mound was scraped away by leveling operations during the construction of the National Stockyards, but in some areas approximately a meter of mound fill remains.
ISAS crews began conducting hand excavations and recording detailed information about the construction of the mound. The precise size and shape of the mound could not be determined because its upper layers were removed in the 1800s and because the mound extends outside the project area. Several burials and possible burials were encountered under the periphery of the mound; a cluster of possible burials was found just west of the actual mound; and nearby prehistorically filled borrow areas also contained scattered burials. This unusual set of deposits and remains prompted not only intensive consultation between the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), Federal Highway Administration, Illinois State Historic Preservation Officer, Illinois State Burial Law Coordinator, and interested federally recognized Tribes, particular the Osage Nation, but also innovative methods of preservation.
IDOT engineers, lead by Chad Sanders, were able to significantly modify construction plans and move a proposed waterline along this segment of relocated I-70 to create a permanent archaeological preserve that encompasses about 5,250 square feet and is now known as the Feature 2000 Preservation Area. Before about two meters of fill was placed over the mound and burials, ISAS staff documented and sampled the numerous profiles that were cut across the complex sequence of anthropogenic deposits. During construction, concrete barriers have been placed along the perimeter of the preservation area to prevent damage to the area, and in the future, IDOT will fence the area and take other actions to ensure that no disturbances occur within the preservation area in perpetuity. The coordinated effort to preserve the remnants of this ancient monument illustrates IDOT’s commitment to historic preservation and to good-faith consultation with native Tribes.
Chad Sanders (IDOT D8 Project Engineer), Patrick Durst (ISAS Project Archaeologist), Brad Koldehoff (IDOT Cultural Resources Specialist), Scott BigHorse (Assistant Chief Osage Nation), Norman Stoner (Division Administrator FHWA), Janis Piland (Environmental Engineer FHWA), Jon-Paul Kohler (Program Manager FHWA).
[posted May 25, 2012]