Friday, December 09, 2011

Agricultural Archaeology and More

Here is an article I found via the Memphis Commercial-Appeal.

Mississippi River floods from the spring of this year have apparently scoured away enough sediment to expose a cotton field that was buried by the legendary 1927 Mississippi River flood
in Coahoma County, Mississippi. From the article:

"Like washing away a layer of mud from the bottom of an old pair of boots, the floodwaters revealed once again the treads of the old field, perfectly preserved sets of ancient mule tracks and old cotton rows.

Bowen Flowers and Pete Hunter, two Coahoma County cotton producers, were lucky enough to have seen the field while hunting this spring. Flowers took a few pictures on his iPhone. 'You can actually see where the mule tracks were when they were rowing it up,' said Flowers, who is serving as the president of the Delta Council this year. 'It was like they were petrified.'

'The rows were extremely crooked like they are when they’re put up by mules,' Hunter said.

Hunter believes the old cotton field was likely flooded in 1927. So does Charles Camillo, a historian with the Mississippi River Commission."

Pretty cool, I thought. Camillo goes on to tell of several other instances when floods on the river have exposed historic features buried by earlier floods.

This immediately reminded me of a reverse situation with a similar result: the drought of 1988 that reduced the Mississippi to a trickle and exposed numbers of shipwrecks in the dry riverbed. I remember driving across the Hernando de Soto bridge at Memphis that summer and seeing the wrecks as big piles of wood out in the old channel.

Here's a link to a brief write-up by the Arkansas Archaeological Survey on the work they did on some of these wrecks.


Chas Clifton said...

Stability is just a word along the Mississippi.

Have you ever visited the excellent little museum dedicated to the 1867 steamboat wreck near Council Bluffs, Iowa. OK, it's the Missouri, but same story.

Reid Farmer said...

Afraid not. But there is a similar museum in Kansas City for a steamboat wreck there.

Chas Clifton said...

What I loved about the steamer Bertrand is that it was full of goods for the miners of Montana.

Everything was preserved in mud for a century. It's like a 19th-century department store full of new goods.

But apparently the museum is currently closed due to flood damage.

What were we talking about?

Reid Farmer said...

An old (and alas, late) friend, Jake Hoffman, ran the excavation of the Bertrand. I worked for him when I was an intern at the NPS in Denver.