Intensive Pedestrian Survey of Mission County Park in San Antonio, Bexar County, Texas




DiVito, Nathaniel
Oksanen, Eric

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


The Center for Archaeological Research (CAR) at The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) has been contracted by Bexar County Infrastructure Services to performed archaeological services in association with planned improvements within Mission County Park in San Antonio, Bexar County, Texas. The Area of Potential Effect (APE) falls within the Mission Parkway National Register District. The archaeological services consisted of an intensive pedestrian survey of Mission County Park prior to the inception of ground disturbing activities and the subsequent monitoring of the demolition of selected structures and facilities within the park and the construction of new facilities. The ground-disturbing activities are part of improvements to the park related to the beautification of the San Antonio River and its watershed corridor. The planned improvements involve the installation of a Hike and Bike Trail, City Public Service (CPS), and San Antonio Water System (SAWS) utilities, and the construction of a portal overlooking the San Antonio River. While the trail and utilities installations are sponsored by Bexar County, the construction of the portal is a San Antonio River Authority (SARA) project. Both the intensive pedestrian survey and the subsequent monitoring activities were carried out under Texas Antiquities Permit No. 6063 with Dr. Steve Tomka serving as Principal Investigator and Nathaniel DiVito and Eric Oksanen serving as Project Archaeologists. The project area consisted of the entirety of Mission County Park. The intensive pedestrian survey focused on portions of the APE not covered by asphalt at the time of the field work while ground disturbing activities were monitored across the entire APE. The intensive pedestrian survey consisted of mechanical auger boring, backhoe trenching, and the hand-excavation of 1-x-1-m (3.28-x-3.28-ft.) test units to explore features identified in trenching. A total of 65 mechanical auger bores were excavated to a depth of 1.2 m (4 ft.) below the surface. In addition, seven backhoe trenches were excavated in search of deeply buried deposits and suspected Spanish Colonial Period cultural features. Finally, upon the encounter of buried cultural features, three 1-x-1-m (3.28-x-3.28-ft.) units were excavated to expose the features and determine their function and relationship to each other. The intensive pedestrian survey resulted in the definition of four multi-component archaeological sites, 41BX1917, 41BX1918, 41BX1919, and 41BX1920. Given the mixture of prehistoric, historic, and modern artifacts and their disturbed depositional context, three of these sites have minimal to no research value and are therefore recommended as not warranting listing to the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) or formal designation as State Archaeological Landmarks (SAL). The fourth site, 41BX1920, is a multi-component site consisting of a Spanish Colonial acequia, a hearth, and a pit feature in an apparent association with burnt daub dating to ca. 4230-3990 BP (2280-2040 BC) during the early portion of the Late Archaic Period. The daub is diagnostic of wattle and daub construction, and it appears to represent the remnants of a prehistoric structure. Given the research value of the features and deposits, it is suggested that 41BX1920 is eligible to be listed in the NRHP and formally designated as a SAL. While originally planned impacts to the park were to disturb the deposits of this site, the archaeological findings have resulted in alterations to the original project design and the relocation of immediate impacts to the northern half of the park. The only planned disturbance to occur within the boundaries of the site is a planned hike and bike sidewalk that will cross the site along its southern perimeter adjacent to the El Chariot fence line. The construction of the sidewalk will have minimal impacts to the San José Acequia that has been documented during the current project. The new project design has been presented to the Texas Historical Commission (THC) by representatives of Bexar County Infrastructure Services and has been approved by the THC representatives. Several facilities existed within the APE prior to the inception of improvement activities. They included existing buildings housing support facilities and offices, baseball and basketball courts, playground, parking lots, and restrooms. While Mission County Park is found within the Mission Parkway National Register District, the district’s significance period extends from 1700-1874, well short of the construction of the Park and of these facilities. With the exception of one of the currently existing structures present within the park, all facilities were built in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The City of San Antonio Historic Design and Review Commission has approved the demolition of these structures. An additional structure that was built in 1951, a pavilion, also has been approved for demolition although the County has chosen to restore this structure. This structure is not a contributing element to the Mission Parkway National Register District. Coordination with regard to this structure has occurred during the project, and the structure has been left in place during and following the demolition of all other facilities. An additional structure, the principal administrative building, will be re-used and has not been demolished. The demolition activities have been monitored by CAR staff. No buried cultural deposits were disturbed during the demolition efforts.



archaeological investigation, archaeology, Texas archaeology, archaeological surveying, excavations, Bexar County, San Antonio, Mission County Park