Cans, bottle caps, flake found

by Joni Astrup

Associate editor

The Bailey Point archaeological dig held for six days in June in Elk River didn’t unearth a vast number of artifacts, but some items were found.

Dr. Richard Rothaus, who led the dig, said they found some historical artifacts around the kitchen area of the Elk River Tourist Camp that once existed on Bailey Point near the confluence of the Elk and Mississippi rivers.

The artifacts consisted mostly of tin cans and bottle caps.

One of the cans was an old hole-in-cap style that usually dates to around 1900 and almost never any later than 1920, Rothaus said. That type of can had a hole in the top that the food was poured into, and then the hole was closed with solder. Based on the can’s size, Rothaus said it almost certainly held condensed milk.

Other can fragments were also found.

He said it’s possible they came upon items that predate the tourist camp and could have been from a camping area used by early loggers.

One tiny flake from a prehistoric stone tool was also found. A flake is a fragment flaked off during the making of a stone tool. But finding just one means almost nothing, Rothaus said, because it could have washed into the area during a flood.

While they didn’t find an abundance of artifacts, they completed the archaeological survey as required by a grant the city received when it purchased Bailey Point.

“The science is solid, and we completed what we needed to complete,” Rothaus said.

He said he’s still stumped as to why they didn’t find more. Part of it has to be related to flood events that probably took some material away and buried other material, he said. A contributing factor, he added, also could be that, for whatever reason, that area wasn’t heavily used in prehistoric periods and by Native American groups.