Cragmor Archaeological Sites

Cragmor Archaeological Sites

August 4th, 1998 Article for Mainstay (Bill Arbogast, 3059)

A recently completed archaeological survey of the University campus has resulted in the recording of more than 60 prehistoric sites. The survey, conducted by the Anthropology Department, was funded by a grant from the Colorado State Historical Fund. Students in the department worked under the direction of Tim Wynn and Bill Arbogast to complete the filed portion of the survey this Summer.

While analysis of the results is ongoing, some preliminary information is available. Prehistoric sites, which constitute about 60 percent of those recorded, include campsites, and lithic procurement areas utilized by the American Indian peoples who lived here prior to the arrival of Europeans. Only a few sites have been dated at this stage of the investigation: charcoal from one of the sites yielded a date of 1860 radiocarbon years before the present, or about A.D. 100, and another site contained pottery of a type that was manufactured during the Early Ceramic Period (A.D. 100 to A.D. 1000).

Historic sites reflect the period from about 120 years to 50 years ago. Many of those sites are associated with activities of the Cragmor Sanitorium. Other historic sites are related to sheepherding during the latter part of the 19th Century, the Santa Fe Railroad, soil conservation practices, water management, and refuse disposal of items from the early 20th Century.

That availability of information concerning these cultural resources will play a role in the planning process for future developments on the campus. Several of the recorded sites are potentially eligible for the National or State Registers of Historic Places. A determination of eligibility can result in some restrictions on just what can and cannot be done to disturb those sites. The analysis phase of the investigation will result in management recommendations for the stewardship of these valued pieces of our past.

The Anthropology Department is planning to conduct test excavations of several sites during the Fall. Students will "dig" test pits to determine the nature and extent of buried cultural materials and to evaluate the potential for obtaining significant data from more intensive excavations in the future.

The prudent management of cultural resources on public lands is mandated by various state and federal statues. We have a legal as well as a moral responsibility to ensure that clues to the past are protected and conserved for future generations. In particular, all persons with knowledge of the locations of significant cultural resources should take care to keep that information from falling into the hands of those who might abuse it. We can share the story of the past without needlessly exposing the hard data of that past to looting and vandalism.

July 2nd, 1998

The archaeological survey of the campus is nearly completed. More than 90 percent of the undisturbed areas have been inventoried. Thrirty five archaeological sites and 27 isolated finds have been recorded. Of the sites, 22 are prehistoric resources, and 13 are historic resources. The prehistoric sites include extensive areas of the lithic procurement activity, and several potential campsites. In addition to resources related to the Cragmor Sanatorium, historic sites include activity areas possibly related to the late 19th Century sheepherding, a turn-of-the-century waterline, and pre-1914 trash scatters. Several of the sites have been field-evaluated as eligible or potentially eligible for the National Register of Historic places. Subsurface testing by excavation is planned to begin later in the summer to further evaluate some of the prehistoric sites and to determine the nature of any, buried cultural materials at those sites.












An intensive cultural resource survey of the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs Cragmor campus lands was undertaken in 1998. Six of the recorded sites were test excavated in August 1999 in order to determine the presence and nature of intact cultural deposits. All cultural materials were processed and analyzed in an effort to address research questions raised by the original survey. Both the survey and analysis phases of the Cragmor project were funded, in part, by grants from the Colorado State Historical Fund.
Test excavations at all six sites confirmed the presence of intact, buried prehistoric cultural materials at depths between 20cm and at least 70cm below present ground surface. Although a slight clay content in soils provides a degree of stability in certain areas, most of the sites are presently threatened by erosional forces and are potentially threatened by future expansion and development.
Data analysis did not reveal a significant difference in artifact assemblages between sites along the bluffs and those situated further west. All of the tested sites contain some evidence of core reduction and tool manufacture, as well as of short-term camping and domestic activities in the form of possible hearths, fire-altered rock, expedient tools or formal tools. Raw lithic material cobbles and outcrops are abundant in the project area. The presence of cores and tested cobbles and the high proportions of cortical debitage indicate that the area was utilized primarily as a lithic procurement location at which core reduction activities took place. The high proportion of broken flakes and flake fragments suggest that some tool manufacturer was also engaged in. The nature of the lithic artifacts, including heavy weathering and the presence of old and fresh flake scars suggests that the area was visited on more than one occasion. Reports of a Clovis point collected from the
The nature of the artifact assemblages recorded during the survey is not appreciably different from those recovered from test excavations. Therefore, while there is evidence of vandalism and collection at many of the sites, there is little evidence to suggest that these activities have biased the archaeological record to a great degree in terms of site utilization.
As the area appears to have been re-visited over time primarily for lithic procurement, the prehistoric sites recorded and tested may be interpreted as a complex of sites distributed throughout the project area. Those that have been tested confirm the presence of intact cultural deposits and should continue to be avoided. Further work is recommended at two of the excavated sites: 5EP3009, to salvage information from a hearth threatened by erosion, and 5EP3011, to determine the extent of buried cultural deposits and redefine site boundaries.