By Coggin Heeringa, Program Director/Naturalist, Crossroads at Big Creek, Inc.
May is Archaeology Month in Wisconsin and Crossroads is celebrating. Truth is, we usually offer archaeology outreach in May, not due to a state designation, but because we are (reasonably) sure that the soil will have thawed. This year, we have received a generous grant from the Wisconsin Humanities Council to learn about and share “Stories of the Land and People” of our Ida Bay Preserve. And we are inviting the community to participate.
This grant will help underwrite a Spring Archaeology Experience at our Ida Bay Preserve.
The archaeological and oral history projects we conduct this spring will corroborate and illuminate the fascinating story of the people who lived or labored on the land we now protect and the story of the land itself. We currently are creating a Trail Map/Informational Pamphlet featuring the amazing history of this 60-acre piece of land.
We know that First Nations people lived here, at least seasonally, and we are searching for more details. We suspect that French traders had a portage trail across the land. Loggers cut trees on the property, and quarrying took place, too. We believe that some of the men who dug the Ship Canal lived in a rooming house near the current Cove Road. And, we are certain that The Cove Resort stretched onto the property we now manage.
We also know that part of the land was used as a farm and sometimes an orchard, and we are searching for information about the migrant workers and locals who picked fruit. One former owner, Ida Bay, ran a shop, and finally, The Nature Conservancy managed the land until they transferred it to Crossroads. That’s a lot of history for one property!
We would love to chat with anyone who has personal memories of the Ida Bay property.
Back to archaeology… An amazing team of archaeologists will be learning more about the First Nations people who lived on the land, and also, using archaeological techniques, pinpoint the locations of historical sites.
This May, students from Sevastopol, Southern Door, TJ Walker Middle School and Sunrise Elementary School of Sturgeon Bay, will be involved in either a dig or an experimental archaeology experience under the guidance of professional archaeologists. We also will be offering an Archaeology by Appointment opportunity for adults, families, and youth groups on Wednesday and Thursday, May 25 and 26.
Crossroads started the Archeology by Appointment program last year when school field trips and indoor programs were cancelled due to COVID. Archeology by Appointment was such a success that even though we again are working with school groups, we will continue this community outreach program.
Previous participants have told us that working at an authentic archaeological dig was on their bucket list. If it’s on yours, or if you want a fun and educational activity for you and your family, consider booking a 45-minute “Archaeology by Appointment” session on May 25 or 26. Sessions start on the hour. To sign up, or for information, email firstname.lastname@example.org . Please put “Dig” in the subject line.
On Saturday, May 21, Habitat Healers will continue to plant trees from 9:30-11:30 a.m. At 2:00 p.m., our Saturday Science family program for school-aged kids and their families will study tadpoles and frogs.
The State Bee Inspector will be the guest speaker for the monthly meeting of the Door County Beekeepers Club. She will discuss “Hive Management in Wisconsin” on Tuesday, May 24, at 6:30 p.m.