American Bottom Field Station-Fairview Heights

American Bottom Field Station-Fairview Heights

American Bottom Field Station location mapThe American Bottom Field Station (ABFS) conducts project survey and site investigations in IDOT Districts 7, 8, and 9. However, due to sprawling transportation infrastructure in the St. Louis Metro East, most of the work at ABFS is performed within the American Bottom region, the broad Mississippi River floodplain opposite St. Louis, Missouri, which contains abundant and complex archaeological resources.


Dr. Alleen Betzenhauser, Associate Research Scientist and Field Station Coordinator

13 Gateway Drive
Collinsville, IL 62234
(618) 855-9206


Frank Moore Site (11MS2483)

Project: Stutz Borrow 1 of 1 (IDOT Contract 76H63, ISAS Log 17011), Funded by IDOT District 8.

Profile view of 11MS2483 cellarIn February 2017, ABFS personnel completed a pedestrian survey and mechanized testing across part of an upland ridge overlooking the East Fork of Wood River Creek in northwest Madison County. This resulted in the identification of three new archaeological sites (11MS2483, 11MS2484, and 2485), the largest of which, 11MS2483, consisted of a moderate scatter of prehistoric lithic artifacts and turn of the century historic materials. While prehistoric materials were restricted to a plowzone context, artifacts such a broken Dalton projectile point and a scraper were recovered indicative of ephemeral landform utilization during the Dalton period (8,500–7,900 B.C.) in the American Bottom.

1890s Alton, Illinois soda/mineral water bottleMechanized testing revealed a small suite of historic features dating between 1890 and the 1940s likely associated with the family of Major Frank Moore, a native Illinoisan whose family migrated to the region from North Carolina around 1808. One feature, a “keyhole” cellar contained materials dating ca. 1890–1910 and as a result was partially excavated. Moore occupied the property and constructed a farm sometime during the 1860s that was still present during the 1990s. While the main farm residence was situated further to the north and outside of the project area, the cellar may represent a smaller dwelling used by extended family and/or farmhands. Posted on April 26, 2017



York Site (11WH281)

Project: FAP 877 Borrow 1 of 1 (IDOT Contract 78021, ISAS Log 16136), Funded by IDOT.

York featureIn October 2016, ABFS archaeologists completed mechanized testing of an area situated on a narrow upland ridge located between the Little Wabash River and a former paleo-channel or meander of the Wabash River. The survey identified a new archaeological site that contained a light scatter of prehistoric lithic artifacts as well as myriad historic materials.


Mechanized testing revealed a small suite of historic features dating to between 1850 and 1920, and likely associated with a small farmstead belonging to the family of Shuble York , a native of Indiana, who first settled the property during the early 1850s. York was a farmer by trade who, at his death in 1879, had bequeathed the farm to his son Sylvester. Sylvester eventually moved to the nearby town of New Haven in Gallatin County, abandoning the farm sometime during the early twentieth century.

ABFS personnel were able to identify four historic features and eleven posts during machine testing at the now eponymously-named York site. Two features—a privy vault and an exterior pit cellar dating between 1850 and 1900—were excavated in their entirety. In addition to the historic component of the site, ABFS personnel recovered a small amount of prehistoric lithic artifacts including fire-cracked rock, chert flakes, and a full-grooved axe. No evidence for prehistoric subsurface features was found at the York site, however, indicating perhaps that the prehistoric use of the site was only ephemeral.

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Cairo Regional Airport

(IDOT Sequence 18916, ISAS Log 14150/15009), Funded by IDOT.

In May 2015, ABFS archaeologists completed a pedestrian/auger test survey prior to a proposed perimeter fence construction project at the Cairo Regional Airport in Alexander County. This work resulted in the identification of 12 new archaeological sites (11AX616–627). Most of the sites consisted of small scatters of ca. 1880–1930s historic artifacts associated with small farming plots present at the turn of the twentieth century. However, at least two sites (11AX622 and 11AX623) contained prehistoric artifacts consistent with Late Woodland/Mississippian sedentary habitation. Subsequently, mechanized testing was carried out on both sites in April and May 2016.

Excavation of a Mississippian house at 11AX622Testing at the Seven Mile Ridge site (11AX622) resulted in the identification of 106 subsurface features, including several historic features such as posts, privies, a cellar, and a cistern that dated to roughly ca. 1890–1920s. Prehistoric features included numerous pits, posts, and a structure basin. Each feature was mapped in, and 12 pits located within the potential area of impact for fence construction were hand excavated. Additionally, a quarter section of the structure was excavated to obtain temporal affiliation. No ceramics were recovered from pit features suggesting a potential Archaic component. The structure basin measured approximately 5 x 4.5 meters, had wall trench architecture, and contained shell tempered pottery suggesting an Early Mississippian component.

Machine stripping at 11AX623Investigations at the Cottonwood Overlook site (11AX623) resulted in the identification of 55 subsurface features. Similar to site 11AX622, several turn of the twentieth century historic features were encountered including a cistern, privies, and posts. Seven prehistoric structure basins were identified along with numerous pits and posts. A total of five pits and a quarter section of two structures were hand excavated to obtain temporal affiliation. One of the structures excavated measured roughly 4 x 2.5 meters and contained both shell and grit/grog tempered ceramics. The structure also possessed single post architecture suggesting a possible terminal Late Woodland component. The second structure tested measured nearly 5 x 5 meters and contained shell tempered ceramics including a fabric impressed pan. This structure had wall trench architecture suggestive of a Mississippian component. Following test excavations, the 11AX622 and 11AX623 site areas will be filled back in, and may be placed under a protective covenant for safekeeping.

Posted 11 May 2016.

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FAP 327/Lebanon Bypass

(IDOT Sequence 12010A-C, ISAS Log 13136, 15035,15195), Funded by IDOT.

Metal detector surveyBetween 2014 and 2015, ABFS personnel conducted pedestrian, auger, metal detector, and geophysical surveys as well as mechanical testing prior to a proposed highway construction project near Lebanon in St. Clair County. This work resulted in the identification of 7 new archaeological sites (11S2036–2039, 11S2054, 11S2059–2060) and a revisit to 11 previously reported sites (11S731–734, 11S736–737, 11S739, 11S1504, 11S1831, 11S1835–1836). These sites ranged from small prehistoric lithic scatters to nineteenth century Euro American settlements. At least four sites (11S732, 11S736, 11S1836, 11S2060) were determined potentially eligible for the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) due to the probability for pre-Civil War era historic subsurface features and were recommended for further work.

A.G. Moore Site (11S732)—A pedestrian survey was initially completed at the A. G. Moore site, resulting in the collection of a modest assemblage of historic artifacts. This included refined ceramics (whiteware, ironstone), unrefined ceramics (redware, stoneware, yellowware), container glass, and architectural debris (brick, window glass, iron nails, iron hinges). Both hand painted (sprig) and annular decorations popular ca. 1840–1860 were present on whiteware.

Unrefined ceramics were dominated by salt-glazed and Albany stoneware, with Bristol slip treatments notably absent. Following pedestrian survey, a systematic metal detector survey and magnetometer survey were completed. Each verified the likelihood for historic subsurface features within the project area.

John Wakefield first purchased the land encompassing the site in May of 1832. A. G. Moore acquired the property by the Civil War and a structure is illustrated within the site limits. The Moore family retains ownership well into the twentieth century. The A. G. Moore site is probably associated with the occupation of the property by the Wakefield and Moore families ca. 1832–1900.

11S736 selected refined ceramicsD. Berry Site (11S736)—A pedestrian survey was conducted at the D. Berry site and a sizeable assemblage of mostly nineteenth century historic artifacts was collected. Fifteen prehistoric artifacts were collected including cobbles, chert, rough rock, and fire-cracked rock. Historic material recovered consisted of refined ceramic (porcelain, pearlware, whiteware, ironstone), unrefined ceramic (stoneware, redware, and yellowware), a ceramic marble, container glass, white clay pipe fragments, Prosser buttons, animal bone, and a porcelain doll’s foot. Decorative elements present on pearlware included green and blue scalloped edging and hand painted motifs common during the 1820s. Decorated whiteware consisted of sponged, hand painted, and transfer printed wares common ca. 1830–1860. Decorated ironstone included molded and flown motifs popular ca. 1840-1870s. Architectural debris consisted of window glass, brick fragments, a doorknob, and iron nails.

Thorton Peeples first purchased the surrounding property on August 2, 1831. Possibly through a default on the deed, John McGrew acquired a 40-acre parcel in February of 1837. David Berry purchased the land by the Civil War and a structure is illustrated within the site limits. The D. Berry site is likely affiliated with the ownership of the property by Peeples, McGrew, and Berry ca. 1831–1870s.

Magnetometer results from 11S1836Cirotsih Site (11S1836)—A pedestrian, metal detecting and magnetometer survey were completed at the Cirotsih site, resulting in the recovery of a discrete assemblage of nineteenth century historic material. Artifacts included refined ceramic (creamware, pearlware), unrefined ceramic (redware), metallic buttons (brass, pewter, silver), a silver-plated brooch, pewter pendant fragments, lead shot, and lead scrap. Iron items consisted of chain links, tool fragments, and hand forged nails. Based upon the presence of creamware and pearlware and the general lack of whiteware the assemblage is strongly indicative of occupation pre-dating ca. 1830.

Madeaux Gilless purchased the surrounding property on September 30, 1814. The family of H. H. Horner acquired the land by the 1860s and retained ownership well into the twentieth century. No structures are depicted near this location during the nineteenth century. There is a strong likelihood that the Cirotsih site (11S1836) is affiliated with an early nineteenth century settlement possibly by Madeaux Gilless.

Artifacts from 11S2060T. Johnson Site (11S2060)—Pedestrian, metal detector, and magnetometer surveys were conducted at the T. Johnson site resulting in the recovery of a sizeable assemblage of nineteenth century historic artifacts. The collection included refined ceramic (whiteware, porcelain, ironstone), unrefined ceramic (redware, yellowware, stoneware), container glass, iron scrap, metallic buttons, lead scrap, lead shot, and architectural debris (brick, limestone, window glass, iron nails). Decorative elements present on whiteware included green edged, hand painted (sprig), transfer printed and annular motifs common ca. 1830–1860. In of September 1831, Cornelius Tinsley purchased the the surrounding property. Thomas Johnson had acquired a small parcel of the land by the Civil War and a structure is depicted within the site limits. Luther Brown was the owner by the 1870s and the structure was no longer present.


Posted 11 May 2016.

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TR 109 Bridge Replacement

(IDOT Sequence 19331, ISAS Log 15090), Funded by Clinton County.

In September 2015 and March 2016 ABFS archaeologists completed an Auger/Shovel test survey, mechanized testing and feature excavations prior to a proposed bridge replacement in Clinton County. The work resulted in the identification of one new archaeological site.

Profile of Feature 2, pit cellarThe Shoal Creek Terrace site (11CT568) was on the northern end of a large terrace along the eastern bank of Shoal Creek. It was divided north to south by Old State Road known historically as the Goshen Road or St. Louis to Vincennes Road. The site was reported based on the recovery of a modest assemblage of prehistoric lithic artifacts (chert flakes) and nineteenth century glass and ceramics found during the initial survey. Subsequently, a backhoe was used to remove the plowzone revealing two historic pits and two posts. Each was fully excavated by hand and contained materials dating to the period ca. 1820-1850. The features were interpreted as formerly limestone lined pit cellars possibly associated with log cabin.

A free black man named Henry Curtis (ca. 1822-1828) purchased the land from Harrison Thompson in 1822. He operated a toll bridge and tavern at this location until around 1828 when he sold the property to a Kentuckian named Albert G. Maxey in return for a mill further downstream. Following the property acquisition, Maxey continued operation of the toll bridge and opened a “store of goods” until at least 1849 when he left for the California gold rush.

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TR 76 Bridge Replacement

Project: TR 76 Bridge Replacement (IDOT Sequence 19415, ISAS Log 15129), District 8, Funded by Calhoun County.

FAS777 Bridge

In October of 2015 ABFS archaeologists conducted a pedestrian survey and did augur testing along Greenbay Hollow Creek before a bridge replacement project. Part of the survey revisited two previously recorded sites.


At the Packers site, our archaeologists found a small non-diagnostic prehistoric lithic scatter which included chert debitage and a biface fragment. At the Greenbay Hollow Bridge site, our archaeologists identified a single span limestone arch bridge that may have been constructed before the Civil War. Some of the best-documented examples of stone arch architecture in Illinois are found in Monroe County and date to about 1855-1913. Unfortunately, while the Greenbay Hollow Bridge appears to have been built before the Civil War, it has also been heavily modified since, including the addition of wood, iron and concrete deck and rails, all of which make it ineligible for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP). These modifications, as well as recent flooding that severely damaged the bridge and caused a loss of structural integrity, have prevented its preservation in place and necessitated its replacement.

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FAP 42 Illinois Route 13/127 Borrow 1 of 2

Project: FAP 42 Illinois Route 13/127 Borrow 1 of 2 (IDOT Contract 78215, ISAS Log 14151), District 9, Funded by IDOT.

In September of 2014 ABFS personnel conducted a cultural resources investigation prior to a proposed borrow in Jackson County. The project area was adjacent to Illinois 127 north of the City of Murphysboro. A pedestrian survey and mechanized testing was completed on multiple ridges west of the highway and northeast of Beaucoup Creek resulting in the delineation of two new archaeological sites.

FAP 42 Borrow 1

The Holschen site (11J1369) was recorded on the southern portion of a narrow ridge based upon the collection of a small assemblage of prehistoric artifacts from the surface including chert debitage, fire cracked rock and a grit tempered and cordmarked sherd. Subsequent mechanized testing utilized a backhoe fitted with a smooth bladed bucket to remove the plowzone. Two probable Late Woodland pit features were defined and completely hand excavated, however no additional diagnostic material was found.

The Matthew Stephen site (11J1370) was an isolated find on a narrow ridge northeast of Beaucoup Creek consisting of a single fragment of fire cracked rock. No subsurface features were identified and no diagnostic artifacts were found. Neither site was eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) and project clearance was recommended.

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FAU 8961 College Avenue Sidewalk

Project: FAU 8961 College Avenue Sidewalk (IDOT Sequence 19315, ISAS Log 15074), District 8, Funded by City of Alton.

Frank shovel test

In June and July of 2015 ABFS archaeologists completed a cultural resources investigation prior to a proposed sidewalk replacement in the City of Alton in Madison County. The project area was situated on a large ridge north of the Mississippi River bluff that overlooked Shields Branch. Shovel testing was carried out along the north side of College Avenue in Rock Spring Park resulting in the delineation of two new archaeological sites.

Colonel Rufus Easton first acquired the land encompassing the project area from the government in December of 1814 and went on to found the City of Alton in 1817. An inset map of Alton from the 1861 Madison County Atlas depicts the property as part of an eleven-lot subdivision with two structures owned by Thomas Stanton. Maps of Alton following the Civil War fail to illustrate structures, however the lots are designated as Stanton’s Subdivision through the turn of the century.

Alton artifactsThe Thomas Stanton site (11MS2449) was reported based upon the collection of a moderate assemblage of primarily Late Pioneer through Early Industrial Period (ca. 1830-1900) historic artifacts. This included refined ceramics (pearlware, whiteware, ironstone, porcelain), unrefined ceramics (yellowware, stoneware, redware), container glass, and personal items. Architectural debris consisted of brick, iron nails, limestone, mortar, and windowpane glass. Surface treatments and decorations common on refined ceramics were blue edged (1820-1830s), hand painted (1830-1860), sponged (1840-1860), transfer printed (1830-1840s), and flown (1840-1870). A total of seven subsurface features were identified within shovel tests. Although, the exact dimensions of each feature is unknown they ranged from 40-90 cm in depth and may represent cellars or cisterns affiliated with the ca. 1861 Thomas Stanton structures.

The Rockspring site (11MS2450) was primarily a non-diagnostic prehistoric lithic scatter located on the crest of a ridge overlooking Shields Branch. Artifacts collected included chert debitage and fire cracked rock.

The Thomas Stanton site (11MS2449) was recommended for further testing or avoidance based on the presence of pre Civil War historic materials as well as the identification of a subsurface features. Final plans for the sidewalk replacement were able to successfully avoid impacting this site.

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Southern Illinois Airport Tree Clearing/Burn Pit

Project: SIA Tree Clearing/Burn Pit (IDOT Sequence 18760A, ISAS Log 14177), District 9, Funded by IDOT.

In November and December of 2014 ABFS personnel conducted a cultural resources investigation prior to a proposed tree-clearing project at Southern Illinois Airport in Jackson County. The project area was located adjacent to Fox Farm Road west of the City of Carbondale. A pedestrian survey, metal detecting survey, and mechanized testing was completed at one previously recorded archaeological site.

The All Saints Day site (11J1197) was located on a small upland ridge directly east of the Big Muddy River. A pedestrian survey identified a historic occupation based upon the presence of a small scatter of domestic refuse including glass, ceramics and brick. Also present was a light prehistoric lithic scatter including chert debitage and fire cracked rock. A systematic metal detector survey was then conducted using a White’s E series Spectrum XLT to further define the historic component present. Finally, mechanized testing was carried out using a trackhoe fitted with a smooth bladed bucket to remove the plowzone.

SIA Burn Pit

The outcome was the identification and hand excavation of three historic period features and three post molds. These were interpreted as two subfloor pit cellars, a privy vault, and a pit of unknown function. Each appears to be part of a ca. 1840-1860s habitation potentially affiliated with John R. Jones. Jones was a farmer from Missouri that first acquired the property in 1815. According to Federal Census records he is the head of an eight-person household in Jackson County from 1840-1850.

The historic artifact assemblage was comprised primarily of refined ceramics (whiteware, ironstone), unrefined ceramics (salt-glazed and Albany stoneware), container glass, clothing/personal activity items (buttons, buckles, slate pencils, pocketknife, scissors, and pins), and architectural debris (brick, iron nails, window glass, burned clay). Decorative elements present on refined ceramics included blue edged (post-1840), hand painted (1840-1860), sponged (1840-1860), and annular. The container glass sample was small but included a mostly intact Gothic style sauce bottle (1840-1880s).

Although no prehistoric features were located, a modest collection of prehistoric artifacts was found. This consisted mostly of chert debitage, fire cracked rock, and cobbles, but also included an Early Archaic Hardin Barbed projectile point (BC 8000-5500) and two grit tempered Late Woodland/Terminal Late Woodland sherds. Final plans for the burn pit were able to successfully avoid impacting the remaining portions of the site.

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FAS 777/CH14 Bridge Replacement

Project: FAS 777/CH14 Bridge Replacement (IDOT Sequence 19534, ISAS Log 15188), District 8, Funded by Bond County.

Bond Co. BridgeIn October 2015 ABFS personnel completed a cultural resources investigation in advance of a bridge replacement project in Bond County near Dry Fork Creek. Shovel testing within a wooded environment resulted in the identification of a potential Late Woodland habitation site on the bluff overlooking Dry Fork Creek. A large assemblage of prehistoric artifacts were collected including fire cracked rock, chert debitage, a biface, cobble tools sandstone, and a few grit tempered and cordmarked sherds. The area was recorded as the Greenleaf Bluff site (11B182) and was recommended for further testing due to the potential for subsurface features.

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Broglio Site (11WM80)

During September and October 2013, ISAS personnel from the Central and American Bottom Field Stations completed Phase III archaeological investigations at the Broglio Site, a multi-component Middle/Late Archaic and Early/Middle Woodland site in Williamson County, investigated as part of an IDOT project aimed at the straightening of a dangerous S-curve. Current construction plans increase the project right of way (ROW), which would impact the southern portion of the site. First recorded in 1962 as a Woodland period site, the project area was revisited in 2002 by ISAS personnel who recovered artifacts dating from the Early Archaic through Late Woodland periods.Based on these results, additional testing was recommended prior to construction of the new bypass.

In December 2012, test excavations opened several trenches within the area of the site to be impacted by road construction. Intact archaeological deposits consisting of pit features and scattered human remains were identified. Based on these results, the site was deemed eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places, triggering additional investigations in 2013. These data-recovery excavations included the expansion of previous test blocks, which ultimately exposed nine percent of the entire site area (Figure 1). A total of 149 features were defined and investigated within the ROW, 111 of which were cultural in origin (Figure 2). These features consist of 93 pits of varying size and shape and function (Figure 3), one large shallow basin, and 17 mortuary related features.


Broglio Phase III fieldwork

Phase III fieldwork in progress.

Broglio feature distribution

Map of feature distribution across Phase III area of Investigations.

Broglio Crab Orchard phase pit

Crab Orchard phase pit.

Preliminary analysis of diagnostic material recovered from the excavated features indicates that two primary periods of site use are represented – Middle/Late Archaic and Early/Middle Woodland. Thick fabric-impressed Early and Middle Woodland (600 B.C.-A.D. 400) Crab Orchard ceramics, including sherds and several jar rims, were the most frequently identified diagnostic from feature context (Figure 4). Most lithics recovered from pit features still require analysis, but a few middle Woodland lamellar blades were recovered (Figure 5, H). Other material observed from the Crab Orchard features includes burned nutshell, burned and butchered animal remains, potter’s clay, debitage, and abraders. The similarities observed between pits in terms of size, shape, and content suggest that the 93 identified pit features are mostly associated with the Early/Middle Woodland habitation component.

Broglio Crab Orchard ceramics

Crab Orchard ceramics.

A Middle/Late Archaic (3500-600 B.C.) component was identified by the presence of Karnak and Helton Points (Figure 5, B-F) and the burial features. Pits related to the Crab Orchard occupations and modern septic trenches had disturbed many of the burials; however, one intact burial contained the remains of an adult female accompanied by marine shell goods, including a shell pendent and beads. Although no temporally diagnostic artifacts were recovered with the burial, the grave goods are similar to those from the Late Archaic Indian Knoll site to the south in Kentucky. ISAS Log #01138, 01197, 02058

Broglio lithics

Diagnostic projectile points from Phase II and Phase III investigations. A: Kirk Corner-Notched, B-D: Karnak, E-F: Helton, G: Ledbetter, H: Lamellar Blade.

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Rieder Road Project

During 2012, ISAS evaluated nineteen sites in southwestern Illinois potentially impacted by the proposed Rieder Road/I-64 Interchange in St. Clair County. Five of these sites contained subsurface cultural deposits with potential to yield information relevant to the prehistoric and early American occupation of this unique upland locality near Silver Creek. These five sites included remains of storage pits and houses dating to the prehistoric Patrick (A.D. 650-900) and Lohmann (A.D. 1050-1100) phases, and to the Frontier Era (1810-1870) period of American history. Although the periods of occupation are widely separated in time, they share a common theme in that they represent population expansions into this gently rolling landscape of meadowland and tree groves, located adjacent to the floodplains of the two branches of Silver Creek. Nearby, across the stream channels, the famous Looking Glass Prairie at one time stretched to the east as far as the eye could see.

Reider Road site excavation
Reider Road site excavation

The first substantial occupation of this region of southwestern Illinois occurred during the Patrick phase—a time during which a vibrant Late Woodland society, relying on a highly developed pre-corn agricultural economy, was able to develop a firm foothold in the greater St. Louis bi-state metropolitan area. People lived in large villages and hamlets scattered throughout both the rich alluvial floodplains and the interior uplands. The introduction of corn into the Eastern Woodlands around A.D. 900 permanently and dramatically altered this three-century period of social stability. Local populations underwent significant transformations as a result of the new corn-driven surplus economy, which eventually enabled powerful and enterprising leaders during early Mississippian age times (A.D. 1050-1200) to finance the construction of large architectural undertakings at the only true prehistoric city north of Mexico—at the prominent nearby floodplain site of Cahokia. As Mississippi floodplain acreage became increasingly valuable, however, it was necessary to resettle whole villages from the valuable floodplain soils into the nearby upland regions. One of these areas of resettlement was the Silver Creek locality which saw a substantial population influx during Lohmann phase times. The displaced floodplain farmers were forced to rely on the more restricted, but still productive, floodplain soils associated with the smaller upland stream channels for growing corn. This upland experiment seemed to thrive for a short period of time, but was eventually cut short about A.D. 1250, possibly as a result of an extended period of drought.

button from Reider Road site

The early historic American immigrants arrived in this same region following the War of 1812, and not surprisingly, faced similar challenges as their prehistoric counterparts. The early settlers were seeking land to grow both the Old World crops that they were familiar with, like wheat, oats, and barley, but also the indigenous crop of corn, which they eagerly adopted. They sought to build on land that was not frequently flooded like that of the nearby Mississippi River floodplain, and were particularly interested in the open meadowlands of the Silver Creek drainage. They were able to pasture cows, and the abundant tree groves provided construction material for houses, barns, corrals, and pigpens, and served as a ready source for heating fuel. We hope that our investigations will eventually shed light on the unique role this region played in the development of Cahokia, and in the period of American Frontier expansion.

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Gypsy Rose Lee (11MS2410)

Gypsy Rose Lee excavationThe Gypsy Rose Lee site (11MS2410) was discovered in March 2013 during an archaeological survey associated with scheduled IDOT improvements to Spring Valley Road in southern Madison County. The site is located in the uplands on the Silver Creek drainage, roughly 15 km northeast of Cahokia. Numerous pieces of chert debitage, rough rock, and ceramic sherds were recovered within the project’s proposed right of way; the latter included several Early Mississippian and two Late Woodland cord-marked sherds. Mechanical removal of the plow zone revealed 29 Early Mississippian Lohmann phase (A.D. 1050–1100) cultural features, including four wall-trench structures, three interior pits, 21 exterior pits, and one hearth. All features that fell within the project ROW were completely excavated.

Gypsy Rose Lee lithics

Material recovered during site excavations is comprised of ceramic, lithic, and botanical material. Ceramics are consistent with Lohmann assemblages in the American Bottom, with jars dominating the assemblage and bowls, funnels, and bottles accounting for the minority. Lithics from the site are also consistent with Lohmann assemblages but reflect activities and status generally associated with sites in the American Bottom near Cahokia rather than those in the uplands and include numerous microliths, drills, and perforators, tools that are generally associated with shell bead production. Status or exotic items recovered at Gypsy Rose Lee consist of galena, a Cahokia-style discoidal, and non-local Kaolin chert tools and debris that account for roughly ten percent of the chipped stone assemblage. In addition to the Mississippian lithics, two Early Archaic projectile points or knives— Agate Basin and Hardin Barbed — were recovered from the plow zone. Botanical remains were recovered from 27 features and include corn, squash, starchy seeds, and nutshell; hickory, oak, and elm were utilized for fuel.

Our investigations and subsequent analysis of cultural materials determined that the site was predominately occupied during the Mississippian Lohmann phase. Artifacts indicative of other time periods such as the Early Archaic points, Late Woodland body sherds, and one Stirling phase Ramey Incised sherd, either represent prehistorically “found/collected” items or ephemeral earlier and later occupations of the site. The lack of long-term occupation immediately prior to the Lohmann phase settlement at Gypsy Rose Lee is consistent with the overall pattern of resettled founder populations in the uplands at the onset of the Mississippian period. The site differs however from other contemporaneous upland settlements in that some level of crafting occurred at the site and numerous status and exotic lithic materials were present. ISAS Log #13023

Gypsy Rose Lee lithics
Gypsy Rose Lee ceramics

Our investigations and subsequent analysis of cultural materials determined that the site was predominately occupied during the Mississippian Lohmann phase. Artifacts indicative of other time periods such as the Early Archaic points, Late Woodland body sherds, and one Stirling phase Ramey Incised sherd, either represent prehistorically “found/collected” items or ephemeral earlier and later occupations of the site. The lack of long-term occupation immediately prior to the Lohmann phase settlement at Gypsy Rose Lee is consistent with the overall pattern of resettled founder populations in the uplands at the onset of the Mississippian period. The site differs however from other contemporaneous upland settlements in that some level of crafting occurred at the site and numerous status and exotic lithic materials were present. ISAS Log #13023

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Ray’s Bluff (11MS526)

Ray’s Bluff is located near Wood River on the bluffs overlooking Smith Lake (now drained). This large site encompasses three ridges along the bluff edge and extends eastward away from the edge. Subsurface features were found in small, distinct clusters across two of the ridges, while the third was disturbed by recent borrowing activities and was thus devoid of features. Eight features were associated with a mid-19th century farmstead. The remainder included six postmolds and 39 dispersed clusters of prehistoric pits that likely reflect an intermittent Late Woodland (Patrick phase) occupation. The absence of ceramics in seven pits may reflect an Early Archaic component which was originally identified from surface material.

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H. Brush (11MS957)

H. Brush is on the bluffs overlooking the West Fork of Wood River Creek. Mitigation within the 15 meter ROW revealed three single-post structures (two circular and one oval), three wall-trench structures (two were rebuilt), and 35 prehistoric pit features. A Ramey Incised sherd recovered from one wall-trench structure, and shell-tempered sherds from the single-post structures indicate the presence of Late Woodland through Mississippian occupation.

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Loyd site (11MS20)

Ongoing excavations for a commercial development have uncovered a buried Terminal Late Woodland (probably Loyd phase) settlement at the remaining portion of the Loyd site (11MS20), located along the margin of the American Bottom floodplain. The Loyd site was largely destroyed by soil borrowing in 1963, following salvage excavations conducted by the Robert Hall and Patrick Munson, then associated with the Illinois State Museum. ITARP excavated several possible house basins, roughly 35 pit features, and one post pit, all of which were capped by nearly 1 m of prehistoric and historic slope wash.

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Pinga’s Pup (11MS1970)

In the interior uplands, statewide testing was performed at eight sites along the proposed County Highway 75/Governor’s Parkway corridor that would serve as a southern bypass for Edwardsville. One site, Pinga’s Pup (11MS1970), produced Lohmann phase Mississippian features, including one structure and four pits. These appear to represent the margins of a larger community destroyed by an adjacent housing subdivision. The artifact assemblage suggests non-residential, specialized workshop activities involving the working of basalt, quartz crystal, and galena.

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Seven excavation blocks were placed within the reported limits of 11R579, a previously recorded site at the Mississippi bluff base backed by high limestone cliffs (Figure 13). Although five of the blocks contained no features, 20 Patrick phase pits were found densely packed within one 5 x 5 m excavation block, completely buried under 2 m of colluvium. A Mississippian wall trench superimposed by a pit feature was found in the corner of another block at a depth of about 1 m. All of the exposed features were excavated.

View of 11R579 site

General view of 11R579.

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IL 13/27 (FAP 42)

In Perry and Jackson Counties, proposed widening of IL 13/27 (FAP 42) from Murphysboro to Pinckneyville resulted in testing of seven sites, with an eighth site to be tested after IDOT acquires the property. Two sites along the uplands around Beaucoup Creek yielded cultural features. The Perrackson site (11PY198), divided by the county line, included three Mississippian wall trench structures with associated pits and an early 19th-century cellar, all of which were excavated.

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Debera site (11J1183)

Testing was conducted at the Debera site (11J1183) for the proposed expansion of Southern Illinois Airport. Debera, 2 hectares in area, is situated on the bluffcrest overlooking the Big Muddy River. Roughly 100 features were exposed within about 10 percent of the site area, including several structures. Only one of the features was excavated due to heavy rains and continuing bad weather at the end of the 2003 field season. The excavation blocks were backfilled and IDOT is considering whether the project will continue or be modified to miss the site. Surface and/or subsurface components may be from the Early, Middle, and Late Woodland, as well as Mississippian time periods. Additional investigations will be necessary if the site is to be impacted.

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Janey B. Goode (11S1232)

Data recovery began in 2002 at the dense, complex Janey B. Goode (“JBG”) site (11S1232), a 6 ha occupation along the southern margin the Horseshoe Lake meander just north of the East St. Louis Mound Group (11S706). The site abuts an active railroad yard, and is capped by ~0.5 to 1.5 meter layers of historic railroad debris and fill. By the end of the 2003 field season, approximately 22 percent of the site was stripped and nearly 2,200 prehistoric features have been excavated.

Profile of Ditch – Janey B. Goode.

Profile of Ditch – Janey B. Goode.

To date, the largest occupations at JBG are from the Late Woodland Patrick phase and early Terminal Late Woodland Loyd phase. Also present are more widely scattered late Terminal Late Woodland (Merrell or Edelhardt phase), Stirling phase, and late Moorehead or Sand Prairie phase Mississippian features. Numerous single-post and wall-trench structures have been excavated. Pit features are abundant and diverse, and several large post pits with extraction ramps have also been excavated. One of the more interesting and puzzling discoveries of the 2003 season is a linear ditch-like feature about 2 m wide and 50–70 cm deep (Figure 6). A 30-m long segment of the ditch has been excavated, with no evidence for internal or external posts. Its end points have yet to be uncovered. It extends northward from an old Cahokia Creek meander and exhibits multiple episodes of siltation and prehistoric re-excavation (maintenance). Possibly used for drainage and/or defense, the ditch fill is laminated, suggesting that it frequently held water. Superimposition of this ditch by Loyd phase pit features indicates an association with JBG’s earliest occupations. On the western flank of the site, a swale approximately 75 m long, 20–25 m wide and up to 2.5 m deep appears to have been deliberately filled. Most of this landscape modification was apparently performed during the Terminal Late Woodland occupations. The ditch construction and the swale filling required substantial labor investments, hinting at a previously unrecognized level of social complexity during the Terminal Late Woodland period in this area of the American Bottom.

Stirling Phase feature

Janey B. Goode (11S1232)– Stirling Phase feature with row of conch shells and Bison scapula.

The preservation of faunal and floral remains at JBG is excellent due to a general abundance of limestone within the features. Features with large quantities of fish bones, scales and mussel shell (some modified into artifacts) reflect the site’s location near aquatic resources. Bone artifacts, especially awls, pins, and fish hooks are common, and several features produced unusually well-preserved plant materials, including charred cordage. Also, it appears that the inhabitants of JBG were involved in extraregional interaction throughout its occupation. A Stirling phase pit excavated in 2002 yielded 36 intact conch and whelk shells, a bison scapula, and two-dozen Marginella shells (Figure 7). Other features produced marine shell disc beads and pendants, Marginella beads, shark teeth, copper, nonlocal and/or unusual ceramic vessels, and worked quartz, galena, hematite, and basalt.

Investigations at Janey B. Goode will make a significant contribution to our knowledge of Late Woodland to Mississippian populations occupying the area of the East St. Louis Mound Center vicinity. Up to this date, very little has been known about the occupation of this area, particularly during the Late Woodland.

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East St. Louis Mound Center (11S706)

Another NMRC project investigation related to rail realignment was performed in 2003 in the CSX railyard north of I-55/70, within the limits of the East St. Louis Mound Center (11S706). A program of extensive stratigraphic coring by Mike Kolb, StrataMorph, for NMRC detected thick natural source fill deposits in the railyard under a thin mantle of cindery fill (Figure 8).

Mike Kolb at CSX Railyards – East St. Louis Mound Center.

Mike Kolb at CSX Railyards – East St. Louis Mound Center.

Some of these natural source fills resembled the “buckshot” prehistoric mound fills previously encountered by ITARP in the railyard adjacent to the interstate. However, trenching for NMRC revealed that the buckshot fills were deposited during the middle to late 1800s during construction of the railyard. These fill zones, which contained Mississippian cultural debris and engineered soils, overlie a historic trash layer (Figures 9 and 10). It was likely deposited as part of the city land filling projects in the late 1800s when many of the nearby mounds were leveled. A prime candidate is the Cemetery Mound from the East St. Louis Mound Center, which was destroyed circa 1870. The presence of redeposited mound fills within the East St. Louis group locality is common and has incorrectly led some to interpret these deposits as intact mounds.

Profile from CSX Railyard

Profile from CSX Railyard showing the historic fill at the top, the redeposited mound fill in the middle, and a thin brick layer right on top of the buried natural soil.

Profile map from CSX Railyard

Profile map from CSX Railyard showing the historic fill at the top, the redeposited mound fill in the middle, and a thin brick layer right on top of the buried natural soil.

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Canaday School (11S1525)

Other investigations in East St. Louis were conducted for a new elementary school building. In 2002, construction workers digging the new building foundation at the site of the old Canaday school at Lynch and 15th Street discovered human remains from the forgotten 19th century Illinois City Cemetery (recorded by ITARP as the Canady School site, 11S1525). ITARP was requested by the school district to test the area to resolve the contexts of the human remains. Two hundred graves were identified within three excavation blocks; estimates for the entire cemetery range from 2,000–5,000 graves (Figure 11). In addition to the historic cemetery, Early Woodland pottery was recovered from grave shafts suggesting a disturbed earlier prehistoric component was also present. Due to the prohibitive cost of mitigation and IHPA’s desire to preserve the cemetery in place, a new school location was chosen two blocks to the northeast. ITARP’s survey of the new location revealed silty clay swale fill throughout the project area, and no prehistoric or significant historic materials or deposits were encountered during testing. A portion of the East St. Louis Mound Center has been identified about 1.5–2 city blocks to the northwest of the project area; this part of the mound group appears to be associated with a north–south running topographic high which appears to extend to the old Canaday school location.

Canaday School Site

Canaday School Site (11S1525)

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Fingers (11S333)

Ongoing investigations in the Sauget Business Park, a development 12 km southwest of the Cahokia site along the Goose Lake Meander, continue to yield new information about rural Mississippian lifeways. This mitigation is being carried out under an agreement between IDOT, HUD, and the Village of Sauget. Ongoing excavations at the expansive Fingers site (11S333) have uncovered many clusters of Mississippian period structures and pits that appear to represent farmsteads and hamlets. Earlier in the excavations an isolated Mississippian cemetery was identified. Under an agreement between the various parties the cemetery was set aside and a green area established to protect it from future development. While the majority of the features within the project date to the Stirling and Moorehead phases, Lohmann phase and Terminal Late Woodland period features also have been excavated.

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Visitor’s Center— Patti Will (11S654) and Edging (11S658)

On the bluffs overlooking Pittsburg Lake, IDOT-funded investigations were conducted between 2000–2002 for a proposed I-255 Visitor’s Center (Figure 12). Nearly 800 Archaic, Late Woodland, and Mississippian features were excavated at two sites, Patti Will (11S654) and Edging (11S658). Of particular importance is a Sand Prairie phase farmstead at Patti Will, represented by two burned structures, and the Middle and Late Archaic components at Edging, which are represented by hundreds of features. The Mississippian component at Edging is represented by roughly two-dozen rectangular and circular structures and appears to represent a rural Stirling phase civic node.

Crew excavating feature at the Visitor’s Center.

Crew excavating feature at the Visitor’s Center.

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Frank Scott Parkway East Extension

Near Shiloh in the St. Clair uplands, testing was performed at six sites for the FAU 9330/Frank Scott Parkway East Extension, and two more sites await access. Two sites, both less than 1 km to the east of the well-known early Mississippian Grossmann site (11S1131), contained features. These include four Late Woodland pits at Isosceles (11S1512) and three Mississippian pits at Ste. Francois Green (11S1551). The latter site is of interest, because like Pinga’s Pup in Madison County (see above), basalt debitage was recovered from the site surface and a quartz crystal was recovered from a pit.

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Harry Billhartz #1 (11CT255)

Farther inland, a proposed borrow pit for FAS 783/County Highway 8 near Damiansville in Clinton County resulted in testing a previously reported site, the Harry Billhartz #1 site (11CT255). Six narrow excavation blocks revealed 28 prehistoric features, about a dozen of which were excavated before backfilling, and an alternate borrow area was chosen. The excavated features include a Late Woodland keyhole structure with Sponemann-like ceramics, several Patrick/Sponemann phase pits, and one Terminal Late Woodland pit. A Middle Woodland component is indicated by several body sherds recovered from Late Woodland features. A story about these investigations made the local news, and subsequent interest by national and international news outlets reported this site as a highly significant find.

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