Archaeologist Ryan Rowles got a little excited when he discovered remains of a pre-Civil War gristmill buried under a Washington County bridge destined for replacement.
“There’s no information on excavated gristmills in this part of the state,” said Rowles, a PennDOT archaeologist who documented the site as part of the bridge project. “These were pretty good-sized buildings, two to three stories high.”
Such discoveries, though not routine, are the sort of thing archaeologists are finding under roads and sidewalks across Pennsylvania. They can be important teaching tools, say archaeologists who will discuss finds in July at the 2012 Preservation Combination Conference in Lancaster, sponsored by conservation groups.
Actually, this historical material is probably the best stuff when getting the public more interested and involved because it’s something familiar to them. Like the man quoted in the article who helped tear down the original building; not only can they sometimes provide information — less reliable the farther back you go — but they have a personal connection to it, unlike the prehistoric stuff (Amerindians are, of course, another matter).