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Three Rivers Archaeological Society

Chapter Report (2001-2002)

2002 was a sad and painful year for Three Rivers Archaeological Society (TRAS). Although enthusiasm was high going into the 2002 IAAA annual meeting, later in the year many general meetings were cancelled due to lack of a speaker and/or poor attendance. In September, as most of you know, we were shocked to lose our President, John Pausteck; he passed away suddenly from a massive heart attack while on a fishing trip in Minnesota on September 23, 2002. However, in 2003 TRAS has re-grouped and found new inspiration. Speakers are lined up for this year; elections to fill empty positions are scheduled for the fall; a new meeting place has been found, and membership attendance is averaging approximately 20 people for general meetings. Three Rivers Archaeological Society has finally hit its stride.

As many people know, Three Rivers and Sauk Trail jointly hosted the IAAA 2002 Annual Meeting. We were especially happy to be able to offer a dinner at the Macktown Gathering the Saturday night of the conference, eating dinner at the Whitman Trading Post, a Macktown general store built of limestone in 1848. We feasted on "frontier food" in a real frontier setting; the Trading Post was lit by oil lamp and a light rain fell outside. Although it was damp and the space was small, we believe everyone who participated in the dinner had a unique experience. On Sunday a symposium, "The Archaeology of Northern Illinois" was presented at the Burpee Museum. A number of speakers, listed within the Sauk Trail Chapter Report, presented information on current archaeological sites and investigations in Northern Illinois - a portion of the state that is often overlooked in the archaeological literature. We would like to thank the staff at the Burpee Museum, as well as from the McHenry County Conservation District for their support in putting on the 2002 Annual Meeting.

Members of Three Rivers did participate in a few opportunities for field work in 2002. Walkovers were conducted at the Nygren Wetland Restoration Preserve, located approximately 3 miles west of Rockton, by Sara L. Pfannkuche as part of her dissertation research. Two weekends were spent in April walking the western side of the Pecatonica/Rock River confluence. Approximately ten sites were identified during this project in a 30-acre area. Archaic and Woodland points were recovered, as well as a few pieces of pottery, an abrader, and approximately 1,000 pieces of debitage. Students from the Beloit College Anthropology Department also participated in the field work.

Another walkover was conducted in July at Nygren, this time at its northwestern field where a public trailhead was put in to accomadate the three mile nature walk. A four-acre site, the Boiling Hot Site, is located directly east of the drive; members of Three Rivers, under the direction of Sara L. Pfannkuche and Rochelle Lurie, conducted a survey of the site to verify that it would not be impacted by the drive and to better define specific concentration areas across this National Register eligible site. The Boiling Hot site is multi-component site with Early Archaic, Middle Woodland, and Late Woodland/ Mississipian occupations. A historical concentration, dating to the early to mid-19th century is also located on the northern portion of the site; this may represent one of the first Euro-American structures in the Rockton community.

Instead of a speaker for the May meeting, a presentation on maps and site forms was conducted by Rochelle Lurie to familarize members with how sites are reported to the state. In June, speaker Bruce Cole, an expert salvage privy excavator, talked on the history of privies: how, when and why privies have changed over time. As mentioned previously, a number of meetings were cancelled in the summer and fall of 2002, but most TRAS members got together at the funeral of John Pausteck. TRAS members Sara Pfannkuche and Bill Green also gave a presentation for the Nygren Open House, held at the end of September. Sara gave tours on the recent archaeological investigations taking place on the site while Bill Green talked about the recent Keokuck Axe found on the property during a contract survey conducted by MARS, Inc.that spring. In November, TRAS meetings began again with Sara Pfannkuche presenting an archaeological/historic travelogue from her recent trip to China and Mongolia.

Meetings have become more regular in 2003. We have a new meeting place, the Logan Museum at Beloit College in Wisconsin. We thank the museum and college for welcoming us so graciously. As in the past, meetings are held every second Monday from 7 to 9 pm; we have a half hour social time before the meeting starts. In January, speaker Andy Higgs presented a slide show on his archaeological work within the Alaska Interior. A lab day was conducted in February to give members a chance to see what happens to the artifacts after an excavation is completed. In March we discussed future plans for TRAS, including a fall field trip, probably to see nearby Aztalan or the mounds of Lake Koshkonong. Plans were also put together for having a public outreach during the 2003 Nygren open house in which members would display artifacts and help people identify artifacts that they bring. Our last meeting was unusal: Steven Kuehn presented his work done on the pioneer Sheard Road Site in Racine County, Wisconsin. We kept with the pioneer theme and had the talk without electricity due to a power failure that evening at Beloit College. Luckily Steve was rose to the challenge and drew his slides, since he couldn't show them.

Currently TRAS has twenty members, but due to the new relationship with Beloit College we are hoping to increase our membership with Beloit students. Elections are planned for the fall and will probably bring in a new group of board members and officers who are very enthused about our future. We believe that the future of TRAS looks very bright