Recovering an 1890-1936 Cultural Time Capsule

Looking east at the Feature 1 deposit
under a concrete slab.
Shoveling and screening Feature 1 materials.
Washing material on site
Sorting ceramics in the lab

The Rocky Fire of 2016 burned all of the Hoberg’s Resort structures.

Feature 1 was not discovered till after the Rocky Fire had burned the main lodge. Beneath a concrete slab (representing an addition to the lodge) was discovered a layer of cultural soil containing a full range of historic material from the late 1800’s through 1936. Background research indicated that a fire in 1936 burned 80 of the resort buildings. It is assumed that much of the debris from that fire cleanup was used as fill next to the main lodge to support the construction of an addition.

This feature provided the best opportunity to learn about the early history of Hoberg’s Resort from its beginnings in 1895 through 1936. A decision was made to solicit the help of volunteers to excavate and screen the whole feature and recover as much cultural material as possible.

Feature 1 Field Methods

All soils were dry screened through 1/4″ mesh and all cultural material bagged and moved to the wet screen. Volunteers were told to keep:

All whole bottles, all bottle necks, all stoppers, all bases, and walls that had writing. Any glass kitchen ware, tableware, lighting devices, vases, etc. Any mirror glass, picture frame glass, eye glass lenses, etc.

All whole plates, cups, bowls, pitchers, etc., all rim pieces, and any bases with maker’s marks. Any crockery pieces and ceramic beverage bottles, vases, any whole porcelain electrical parts, doll parts, and toys of any kind.

Buttons and Fasteners
All buttons and fasteners should be kept (shell, metal, bone, Prosser, etc). Fasteners include garter clasps, bra clasps and strap holders, straight pins, safety pins, etc.).

Any recognizable metal tool, all items of copper or brass, door and cabinet hardware (drawer pulls, knobs, etc.), any decorative hardware, any kitchen hardware or tableware, any coinage, any personal adornment items (pins, broaches, purse clasps, etc.), anything with an engraved or stamped mark, all fire arms items (shell casings, etc.).

Volunteers were told to discard:
Rusty metal that is not a recognizable object. Bone or shell unless it is a manufactured item (e.g. bone handle, bone cufflinks, bone toothbrush, button, etc.). Glass or ceramic fragments that are just walls with no decoration or makers marks. Charcoal and nails (unless they are square nails).

Feature 1 Lab Methods

Materials were soaked in buckets of water where tooth brushes and bottle brushes were used to clean off dirt and mud. Cleaned material was bagged and moved to a lab for sorting. Initial sorting divided materials into major categories (glass, bone, wood, ceramics, metal, etc.). Secondary sorting divided glass into colors, ceramics into types (stoneware, cream ware, etc.), etc. Final sorting and reconstruction divided glass into individual bottle types, ceramics into various plates, bowls, pitchers, etc.