KS Archaeology Field School

(Frank) And we’re back again. Hey, you know as a kid we all like to go out and play in the sandbox and play in the dirt, all that kind of stuff. And so as adults, we can go play in the dirt too. But it can be some fun and it happens to be called archaeology. And in Kansas there’s a lot of that that’s going on because this was the Great Inland Sea, part of it. And so, well of course, there are some dinosaur bones around, but there are a lot of seashells and just all kinds of things. Around my pond I have some rocks and imbedded in those rocks which weren’t made yesterday are seashells and what have you. And it’s really kind of fascinating. But I’m kind of stealing your thunder. (Deb) Isn’t that amazing? You know it really is. And so they literally just scratch the surface of you know, the earth. And it yields up treasures. And this summer, you know every year, the State Historical Society has a dig somewhere. And it’s a historic location. And this year’s gonna be like the Last Chance Saloon, Last Chance Store. This year it will be the Last Chance Store, down in Council Grove. And it’s a great place for amateurs to work alongside professionals and so they look at everything, the geology, the artifacts that might be there and what a great place. We’ve talked about Council Grove a lot on the show in the past few months because there’s so much history there. You know the Santa Fe Trail goes back way before we were a territory even. So, with people passing through from all over the place. People from all over the world. You’ve got immigrants that come in. And then you’ve got of course, the natives who were already here. You’ve got people coming in from the southwest on the Santa Fe Trail. The army marching back and forth on the Santa Fe Trail. So, that should be a really, really cool one. That should be a great gig. (Frank) So, put on your Indiana Jones hat and go join them. (Deb) Exactly, exactly, your Indiana Jones hat. And like you were saying, we just did the fossil story last week and there is so much. I was talking to a friend of mine just last night about having a passion for life. And people look around and they’re like, oh this is so boring. There’s nothing to do. And I’m like, good grief get interested in something! Like I said, all you’ve got to do is just scratch around in the yard to find some miracle. You know just get interested in something. There is so much here. But you know you’ve got to get off your butt and do it. (Frank) I mean if you go out and you find an arrowhead and you look at that and you think, wow! (Deb) Wow! (Frank) I’m holding something that someone hundreds of years ago made, used and it’s rather fascinating. (Deb) It is. (Frank) It is to us. (Deb) It is and puts the whole…puts your whole life in context. That’s why I love studying history, puts your life in context. We weren’t the first people here. We’re not the last. You know and you feel sort of connected to all those folks. So, this is gonna be a great opportunity to be a part of that learning experience. (Frank) Dun-dun-do-do! Yea. Oh well! (Deb) The simple stone structure on Main Street in Council Grove is one of the most significant in the history of the American West. Situated on the Santa Fe Trail just west of the Neosho River crossing. The Last Chance Store was indeed the last place where freighters and travelers could obtain supplies between Council Grove and Santa Fe, a distance of 600 miles. The modest building was brought by boat from St. Louis to Westport Landing, now a part of Kansas City, and then mule teams brought it to Council Grove. It was used as a trading post, residence, polling place, refuge for enslaved people, grocery store, corncrib, loan association, and antique store. It is also the newest state historic site and will be governed by the Kaw Mission Site close by. This summer, the Kansas Archaeology Training Program Field School will descend on the Last Chance Store giving the public a chance to become a part of this historic dig. Bob Blasing, an archaeologist with dual residency in Oklahoma City and Council Grove, will be principal investigator for the project. Along with the field training from June 2 through the 17th, many other opportunities are offered including a class in metal detecting. Registration details will appear on the Kansas State Historical Society’s website by March first. Make sure you register early. For more information, contact Virginia Wulfkuhle. This is an incredible opportunity to work with some highly trained and knowledgeable folks on a site that promises to yield lots of surprises!

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