crossroads-image-2This is the week for digging at Crossroads at Big Creek.  Friends of Crossroads and members of Wild Ones have been rescuing and transplanting plants, the guys from Diggers Hot Line have marked the utilities so any day now, we will start digging the retention pond and clearing and grading the ground in preparation for our parking lot expansion. And we are starting our 2016 Citizen Science Archaeological Dig.

Thanks to grants from the Door County Community Foundation and Raibrook Foundation combined with gifts from interested individuals, students and teachers from area schools and interested adults will assume the positions of  “citizen scientists” and continue the work at the Ida Bay Preserve and also conduct systematic excavations utilizing modern archaeological methods and techniques and record artifacts and cultural features within a newly discovered  1000-year old archaeological site at Big Creek Cove Preserve.

And just how did we find another site?  Well, it was about a year ago during a rainstorm…..the kind of day when no sane person would  even attempt  to work outside.  Never -the-less, one of our archaeologists, Willy Kemps, was driving to the Ida Bay Preserve for a day of digging when he noticed a patch of freshly opened soil  between the Utah Street Bridge and 20th Place.

He immediately called Crossroads to confirm we owned the land (Yes!) …and the open soil? Our Land and Facilities Manager Rich Propsom was waging his on-going war with invasive species, in this case, a pernicious patch of honeysuckle.  So sure, if Willy wanted to kick around in the dirt, he could be our guest.  Apparently, chert—the rock often used by used by Native People to make tools—seems to stand out during and after a driving rain, so within a few minutes, Willy had collected a significant number of artifacts without even lifting a shovel. We went out to the Cove and even with our untrained eyes, we were seeing flakes and other interesting pieces of chert.   Soon, Randy Dickson, the Principal Investigator from Midwest Archaeology Consultants, was out there and he quickly determined the Big Creek Cove merited further investigation.

According to Dickson, “Last spring, archaeologists from Midwest Archaeological Consultants excavated features along Big Creek. We discovered that in the distant past, people lived and harvested resources along Big Creek.   Artifacts indicate a Late Woodland Period occupation by Native Americans subsisting on fish, small mammals, and deer.”

So far at the Cove site, our archaeologists have excavated four 2 x 2-meter test units and found five Madison-triangular arrowheads, hundreds of pieces of pottery, thousands of chert flakes and many pieces of animal and fish bone.

Interested adults or families can participate in a dig in several ways.  During the school day, they can work side by side with our middle school citizen scientists or during our Adult/Family Sessions 2:30-4:00, September 28, 29. 30 and October 3 and 4.  Please call ahead if you wish to participate so we can direct you to the active site.  Please e-email and leave a message including your name, number of participants.

Crossroads at Big Creek is a donor- supported preserve welcoming learner of all ages to programs in science, history and the environment.  The Collins Learning Center, located at 2041 Michigan, just east of the Roundabout in Sturgeon Bay, is  open 2:00–4:30 daily and during scheduled activities.  Trails are always open to the public. Pets (on leash and under control) are permitted. For maps and information go to
2016 Citizen Science Archaeological Dig  Adult/Family Dig                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Adults and families are invited to participate in systematic excavations under the supervision of professional archaeologists. Wear clothes that can get dirty and sturdy shoes.  Free and open to the public.

Thursday and Friday, September 29 and 30

2:30-4:00  Big Creek Cove Preserve

Meet at the parking lot at the intersection of Utah Street and 20th Place.  Please pre-register by email:
Monday, October 3                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2:30-4:00  Big Creek Cove Preserve


Tuesday, October  4                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2:30-4:00  Ida Bay Preserve


Park at the Intersection of Cove Road and Zenith Street.Please pre-register by email:

Coggin Heeringa

Director, Crossroads at Big Creek, Inc.

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