Intensive Pedestrian Archaeological Survey of the Helton San Antonio River Nature Park, Wilson County, Texas




Munoz, Cynthia M.

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Center for Archaeological Research, The University of Texas at San Antonio


During August 2010, The Center for Archaeological Research (CAR) of The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) conducted an intensive pedestrian archaeological survey of the proposed Helton San Antonio River Nature Park located near Floresville, Texas in Wilson County to fulfill contract requirements with the San Antonio River Authority (SARA). The survey, conducted under the requirements of the Texas Antiquities Code, was performed under Texas Antiquities Permit No. 5716, with Dr. Steve A. Tomka, CAR Director, serving as Principal Investigator and Cynthia Moore Munoz and Antonia Figueroa serving as the Project Archaeologists. The work was conducted in advance of proposed improvements to the property. Multiple phased improvements proposed for the park include roads, three parking areas, hike and bike trails, scenic overlooks, picnic areas, campsites, recreational vehicle (RV) campsites, an overnight research cabin, multiple toilets and water stations, a multi-use pavilion, an environmental education center, an amphitheater, river accesses for paddling, a pond, a bridge, a riparian land management demonstration area, and a tree and native plant farm. Four existing structures on the property are planned to be used as the park headquarters building and an operations facility. The principal goal of the pedestrian survey was to identify and document all prehistoric and/or historic archaeological sites that may be impacted by the proposed improvements within the park. This report summarizes the results of the fieldwork and provides recommendations regarding the management of cultural resources located on the project area. Pedestrian reconnaissance, 100 shovel tests, 3 hand-auger tests, and 9 backhoe trenches were used to search for cultural resources on the 98 acre project area. Two new sites, 41WN120 and 41WN121, were documented within the project area. 41WN120 is a large multi-component site directly adjacent to and located on a previously plowed field on the northeastern quadrant of the project area. One diagnostic prehistoric artifact was recovered from the surface dating to the Archaic Period, several diagnostic historic artifacts dating from the late 1800s to the mid 1900s, and two structures, one constructed in the late 1800s and one in the mid 1900s, were documented on 41WN120. Subsurface cultural material was present in all levels of shovel testing of this site. Burned plant and bone was recovered off of the plowed field near the bluff adjacent to the Calaveras Creek flood plain in Level 5 (40-50 cmbs) suggesting the possibility of a subsurface hearth feature. Shovel tests in the vicinity of this location contained the deepest deposits of cultural material on the site. The results of magnetic soil susceptibility testing of sediments recovered from the site suggest two buried prehistoric surfaces. The depth of buried prehistoric material near the edge of the bluff off of the plowed area, the possibility of a buried hearth, the indications of two buried surfaces from soil susceptibility analysis, the diagnostic dart point, as well as the historic significance of the late 1800s structure suggest that 41WN120 possesses potential for future research. Therefore, the CAR recommends that the site be considered potentially eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places. The CAR also recommends further testing of the portion of the site containing deeply buried prehistoric material via test units and additional backhoe trenches. The CAR recommends protection of the late 1800s structure. Because the pier and beam house does not contribute to the potential eligibility of 41WN120, no further work regarding the house is necessary. 41WN121, located on a previously plowed field on the northwestern quadrant of the project area, consists of historic artifacts recovered from shovel tests (0-30 cmbs). The artifacts, including ceramics, glass, metal, and brick, suggest the site was occupied from the late 19th century into the early decades of the 20th century. The location of the artifacts in the upper 30 cm of a plowed field and lack of features indicate that 41WN121 possesses a low potential for future research. The CAR recommends that the site be considered ineligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places. Following laboratory processing and analysis, and in consultation with both SARA and the Texas Historical Commission (THC), all burned rock and sediment samples collected on the project were discarded. This discard was in conformance with THC guidelines. All remaining archaeological samples collected by the CAR, along with all associated artifacts, documents, notes, and photographs, were prepared for curation according to THC guidelines and are permanently curated at the Center for Archaeological Research at the University of Texas at San Antonio. The CAR requested and was assigned trinomials (41WN120 and 41WN121) for the sites. The TexSite records are on file at The Texas Archeological Research Laboratory (TARL).



archaeological investigation, archaeology, Texas archaeology, archaeological surveying, Wilson County