Chicago and Lakefront Archaeology

Vol. XIX No. 3 - FALL 2008

Ever find an Indian arrow head or a dinosaur tooth in your backyard? Well, maybe you haven’t, but there are interesting artifacts and nature’s historic signatures right under our very own Edgewater and on our lakefront.

At 10 a.m. on Saturday, January 24th, 2009, we are honored to host Scott, J. Demel, PhD, who will speak on “Chicago and Lakefront Archaeology.”

He spoke at the Hopleaf on Clark Street in October as part of the Field Museum’s outreach seminar series called Cafe Science. His subjects included Lake Michigan shipwreck explorations and some Illinois and Chicago urban “digs” to uncover Chicago’s history. Of special interest, the Field Museum launched a project with Chicago students to conduct a “dig” to “un-layer” the different years of Lake Fill that prepared the way for the museum’s construction and move to its current site in 1921. Previously, the museum was housed in the building now housing the Museum of Science and Industry. The students were able to identify numerous artifacts such as pieces of old newspaper or beer bottles that “dated” the different layers of fill.

EHS members Bob and Katie Remer were there and enjoyed the session (and the beer) so much that they invited Scott to come to EHS, to which he gladly agreed. He will be talking about a number of archaeology projects, recent and proposed, that involve the lakefront and the North Side of Chicago. The Indian trails that passed through Edgewater included Ridge and Clark. There were several known encampments, including a major one in the vicinity of Warren Park in Rogers Park/West Ridge.

Kathy Gemperle reports that Senn Park is the only land in Edgewater that was never built on and the old Kransz road house sat right near the Lincoln statue. Who knows what treasures lie beneath Abe’s feet? And what ancient farming treasures lie beneath the old farms in Lakewood/Balmoral and West Andersonville?

And what shipwrecks lie off our lovely beaches? And where did the lake fill come from that made our lakefront parks?

These are just some of the questions we hope will prompt more interest by our local history buffs, teachers and students. Do we have some budding archaeologists in Edgewater who would like to start a local archaeology project? Students, teachers, archaeology buffs and Edgewater residents are encouraged to join the gathering on January 24th. We will have a discussion after the presentation about possible future projects in Edgewater. We thank Sue Strom, our community’s new Branch Manager for the Edgewater Branch Library, for providing the room.