Winter Excavations during the New Deal in Somerset County, Pennsylvania

by Bernard K. Means

As I watch the snow fall (and fall and fall) here in Fredericksburg, Virginia, on this third day of March 2014, I thought I’d briefly address the assertion that New Deal excavations were focused in the southeastern U.S. because winters in the northeast would have discouraged excavations in this region.  As the photographs below indicate, this is manifestly untrue.  Winter excavations were challenging, to be sure, but WPA field crews in Somerset County, Pennsylvania, managed by using sticks to keep track of excavated postholes and other features. They also kept a fire going in old oil drums to warm themselves periodically, and during lunch–using scavenged wood and coal that fell off of passing trains.

A Scene from Fort Hill

2CROP1_2

 Scenes from Gower

b8084_gower_winter_keeping_warmb8078_gower_winter_excavScenes from Hanna

5CROP1_25CROP2_25crop1_4Scenes from Peck 1

peck01 winter excavation03peck01 winter excavation06A Scene from Powell 1
11crp1_2Scenes from Troutman

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