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TAS Field School at Sanford Reservoir, 1969

A cold front in June brought showers and much cooler temperatures.
A cold front in June brought showers and much cooler temperatures.

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The Beaver Patrol working on the terrace slope above Blue Creek. The kids found lots of discarded Alibates tools and food remains among the rocks.
The Beaver Patrol working on the terrace slope above Blue Creek. The kids found lots of discarded Alibates tools and food remains among the rocks.
Typical artifacts from the excavations. The flaked tools are all Alibates material.
Typical artifacts from the excavations. The flaked tools are all of Alibates material.
Dr. Jack Hughes' Teepee, a familiar site at many TAS field schools.
Dr. Jack Hughes' teepee, a familiar site at many TAS field schools.
A deep excavation reveals a layer of slabs of limestone at the bottom.
A deep excavation reveals a layer of slabs of limestone at the bottom.

By Milton Bell
Photos by Wallace Williams

A view of recreation area from the dam and typical topography.
A view of recreation area from the dam and typical terrain.

The Texas Archeological Society's 1969 field school will be remembered in a single word: cold! Temperatures got down into the 40s at night during that week, and few of us were prepared for that kind of weather in June. I remember that the owners of a store over in Dumas brought out a bunch of their winter clothes from the previous season to sell, and they did a land-office business. Fortunately, the cold spell lasted only a few days and we were able to enjoy the beautiful scenery and interesting excavations. Everyone who participated felt like they discovered something, a lot of it relating to the Antelope Creek occupations—Borger Cordmarked pottery, bone tools, and Alibates lithics.

Excavations atop the terrace overlooking Blue Creek.
Excavations atop the terrace overlooking Blue Creek.

I had been assigned to the Beaver Patrol—the kids group—along with the late Emmett Shedd of Post. We were staked out on a steep slope on a terrace above Blue Creek. There were lots of falling rocks, sliding dirt, and the occasional tumbling child. The natural area around us was so compelling, we sometimes had difficulty keeping the kids focused on archeology. One of the patrol members found a big snapping turtle in the creek, and another time we watched an 8-inch-long centipede emerge from a hole in the middle of our excavation unit.

Meanwhile, the adults went about their investigations in other parts of the site. The photos shown here were taken by the late Dr. Wallace (Wally) Williams, an osteopathic doctor at the V.A. hospital in Temple, Texas. He and his wife were enthusiastic supporters of TAS and a mainstay at TAS field schools. Dr. Williams was a genuinely gentle man who enjoyed having friends drop by his VW camper to enjoy a “medicinal margarita" after a hard day's work. I remember him as quick to volunteer and very pleasant to work with. One of his "signatures" was a well-shellacked cardboard Shiner Beer case that held all his field equipment. He also had a very good "cure" for those Saturday mornings following Friday night parties! Over the course of his 24 seasons of TAS field schools he managed to take thousands of pictures of people, excavations, camp sites, artifacts and anything else that caught his eye. His collection of over 3000 color slides is now housed at the Texas Archeological Research Laboratory.

For more information on the Texas Archeological Society and annual field schools, visit www.txarch.org/.

A cache of awl "blanks" made of split deer metapodials, or limbones. Each blank would have produced two awls.

A cache of awl "blanks" made of split deer metapodials, or lower limb bones. Each blank would have produced two awls, pointed objects used for sewing or puncturing hide or other materials.


The Canadian River Bridge near Sanford  Reservoir (today Lake Meredith Recreation area) and typical topography.
The Canadian River Bridge near Sanford Reservoir (today Lake Meredith Recreation area) and typical topography.
This broken metate was found by the Beaver Patrol.
This broken metate was found by the Beaver Patrol.
Large limestone slabs on edge strongly suggest buried pit-house walls.
Large limestone slabs on edge strongly suggest buried pit-house walls.
A bone digging tool exposed in an excavation unit.
A bone digging tool exposed in an excavation unit.
This slab-lined pit has been excavated.
View of a slab-lined pit.
Cleaning a concentration of flakes and bone fragments.
Cleaning a concentration of flakes and bone fragments.