Archaeological Monitoring along South Colorado Street near Downtown San Antonio, Bexar County, Texas
The University of Texas at San Antonio’s (UTSA) Center for Archaeological Research (CAR), in response to a request from Phaselink Utilities for Zayo Group, LLC (Zayo), monitored excavations associated with the installation of fiber optic conduit southeast of downtown San Antonio, Bexar County, Texas. The monitoring occurred between January 22 and February 4, 2019. This project is located on City of San Antonio (COSA) property and is subject to regulatory review under COSA’s Unified Development Code (Article 6 35-630 to 35-634) as ground-disturbing activities might affect archaeological or historical sites. The project also required review by the Texas Historical Commission (THC) under the Antiquities Code of Texas (Texas Natural Resource Code, Title 9, Chapter 191) because the COSA is a political subdivision of the Texas and the work was conducted on publicly owned lands. The THC granted Texas Antiquities Permit No. 8726 to Dr. Paul Shawn Marceaux, CAR Director, who served as the Principal Investigator during the fieldwork portion of the project, and José E. Zapata served as the Principal Investigator for the report production as well as the remaining tasks associated with the permit. Leonard Kemp served as the Project Archaeologist and conducted the archaeological investigation. The 0.15 hectare (0.36 acre) Area of Potential Effect (APE) encompassed two locations, each with different impacts. APE Location 1 (0.14 hectare; 0.35 acre) runs along the east and west sides of S. Colorado Street from just north of Guadalupe Street to north of Chihuahua Street. This portion of the APE was thought to be in the vicinity of the Battle of Alazán Creek, fought in 1813 during the Mexican War of Independence (Marshall 2015). The possibility existed that artifacts from the battle would be encountered. In addition, a section of this APE location is adjacent to San Fernando Cemetery No. 1, established sometime in the 1860s (Kirkpatrick and Moreno 2008). Consequently, interments could have been encountered along this section of the APE. Finally, the location of the Alazán-Apache Courts, constructed in the early 1940s and one of the earliest public housing projects in the nation (Zelman 1983), is adjacent to the project area. The ground-disturbing activities in the first APE location consisted of a series of nine borehole pits that facilitated directional boring for the installation of fiber optic cables. CAR monitored the excavations of the borehole pits. No artifacts or archaeological features were found in APE Location 1. APE Location 2 (0.004 hectare; 0.01 acre), at the intersection of San Marcos and Tampico streets, involved the installation of a conduit to a communication hub. The excavation of this trench revealed a late nineteenth-century trash midden as confirmed by diagnostic glass and ceramics. The feature fulfills the definition of an archaeological site, and the midden and immediate surroundings were designated as 41BX2276. Given that an unknown portion of the midden still exists and the lack of understanding regarding the history of this area of San Antonio, CAR suggests there is insufficient data to make a determination regarding eligibility of 41BX2276 for possible inclusion to the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP). Based upon these findings, CAR suggests any future ground-disturbing activities near the communication hub take into account the presence of the site and, at a minimum, such activity should be monitored. The THC concurs that an eligibility determination cannot be made and that any future ground-disturbing activities near the site should be monitored by a professional archaeologist. No further review of potential effects to above-ground historic resources is required under the Antiquities Code of Texas. However, should this project ultimately include any federal involvement, additional consultation with THC/State Historic Preservation Officer under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act will be required. Artifacts collected from the project, as well as all project related documents and a copy of this report, are curated at the CAR facility. The facility is a state certified repository on the UTSA campus.