Anthracite Heritage Program

 

Figure 1: Hercules Powder Company Advertisement from the Mining and Scientific Press, 1893.

Figure 2: Hercules Powder Company explosives box.

Photo courtesy of Don Linebaugh.

Figure 3: Parts of a Hercules Powder Company explosives box used to line the summer kitchen, Outbuilding #99 (note the Hercules trademark).

Figure 4: Interior wall of summer kitchen (Outbuilding #99) showing the use of explosive/dynamite boxes used as a covering.

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Eckley Archaeology Blog -  Summer 2017

Week Three 6/12/2017-6/16/2017

 

Explosive Discovery While Surveying Eckley’s Vernacular Outbuildings!

By: Don Linebaugh

 

The UMD archaeology and preservation field school recently spent two great weeks surveying and documenting the domestic outbuildings at Eckley Miners’ Village. Our initial estimate suggested we would document about 75 structures, so imagine our surprise when we finished at Outbuilding #166! The buildings included a wide range of types including summer kitchens, privies, chicken houses, coal houses, storage sheds, and garages that supported the company owned homes of the town’s laborers and miners.

 

Most of these outbuildings were constructed by the residents, as the company only built the summer kitchens and some privies. Thus, we find that these structures are a mishmash of reused, borrowed, stolen, and recycled materials that were available to the residents. One particularly interesting discovery was the use of wooden dynamite boxes to line the interiors of some of the structures, particularly the summer kitchens. The buildings are typically a vertical plank and light frame construction, often without the use of exterior battens to cover the spaces between the vertical planks. Residents apparently winterized these buildings by covering the interior walls with newspaper, cardboard, wallpaper, or whatever was at hand and then tacked up the dynamite box parts over this rudimentary insulation. The semi-ruinous summer kitchen (Outbuilding #99) at one of the two-story double houses near the center of town, displays this interior wall covering using box parts marked “Hercules Powder.”

 

The Hercules Powder Company was initially formed in 1882 by DuPont and Laflin & Rand Powder Company to finance construction of a dynamite plant on land owned by a DuPont subsidiary known as the California Powder Works. The firm was reformed as a separate company and incorporated in Wilmington, Delaware, in 1912 as a result of the breakup of the E.I. du Pont de Nemours "powder trust." As a separate company, it continued to produce explosives and dynamite, before expanding into the production of chemicals and munitions for the World Wars. A company advertisement (Figure 1) indicates that Hercules had plants up and down the East Coast including one in Hazelton.

The wooden Hercules boxes (Figure 2) would have been ubiquitous in mining patch towns like Eckley and were the perfect material to line the walls of outbuildings, sturdy wood parts (Figure 3) that were all the same thickness with finger joints at the corner that could be connected to form a relatively solid wall surface (Figure 4). Even better, they were free!

 

The domestic outbuildings of Eckley are important survivals that speak to the residents’ initiative and resourcefulness in building structures needed to support and enhance their daily lives.

 

 

Photo courtesy of Katie Boyle.

Crew member Dolly Canevari sketching an outbuilding in the field!

Surveying Outbuildings

By: Dolly Canevari

 

 

Our second week in Eckley Miners' Village focused on the historic preservation of different outbuildings.  The goal of documenting and preserving the architecture was to understand how the residents of Eckley used their space. Many of the homes int he patch town were built by the coal company, but some of the outbuildings were built by the residents of the houses themselves. We started the week with a goal of documenting 60 outbuildings, however, at the end of this part of the project the team doumented a total of 167 outbuildings. We looked at structures built from the 1860s up through the late 1900s, and the buildings ranged from coal sheds to garages. Some of the buildings were made out of scraps of whatever the residents had on hand-coal grates were placed as window screens, cardboard boxes lined the walls as insulation, and chicken coops were concocted from the leftover wood of dynamite boxes.

 

While our documentation of the different outbuildings noted the different architectural features including different exterior claddings, rooftops and floorplans, we finished a detailed architectural documentation of Eckley's band house. We captured the building through multiple floor plans, interior drawings, recording the elevations and noting the different structural materials. The small room, used for a community brass band, was a space for the miners and laborers to come together. A former teaching assistant of this project found a newspaper article announcing the construction of the band house in 1890. And although the small building was dilapidated, small features brought the building to life. You could imagine band uniforms placed on the row of hooks at the back of the room or the boisterous sound of brass ricocheting off of the sheet metal covering the walls.

Week Two 6/5/2017-6/9/2017

Photo courtesy of Katie Boyle.

Crew members Kyla Cools, Anne Lodico, and Don Linebaugh work on documenting the interior of the band house!

Week One 5/29/2017-6/2/2017

 

Meet the Summer 2017 Field Crew!

By: Kyla Cools

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                                                                                                   Photo courtesy of Mike Korb

The Field Crew and staff from Eckley Miners' Village receiving a tour of abandoned mine reclamations in progress from Department of Environmental Protection members, Mike Korb and Larry Dobash.

Pictured left to right: Larry Dobash, Anne LoDico, Kyla Cools, Katie Boyle, Bode Morin, Dolly Canevari, Paul Shackel, Don Linebaugh, and Emily Arcaro.

 

As we begin a new field season, we bring new objectives and a new crew! Taking a different approach this year, the field school is incorporating a focus on historic preservation in addition to our archaeological work this summer. This means we are not only performing excavations at Eckley Miners’ Village, we are also documenting a variety of buildings such as the band house and outbuildings (these include summer kitchens, outhouses, sheds, garages, etc.) along Main Street. Thanks to the dedication of our field crew-made up of professors, students, and volunteers-we hope to make this summer one to remember! Read on for a brief introduction to our crew members and some highlights from our first week out in NEPA!

 

Dr. Paul Shackel is a professor of Anthropology at the University of Maryland, College Park. Creating the Anthracite Heritage Program in 2009, Dr. Shackel has been bringing university students out to NEPA to help explore and document the history of the anthracite region for close to a decade. Teaching students interdisciplinary methods such as collecting oral histories, performing archival research, and archaeological excavations, Dr. Shackel has been helping to provide a material dimension to understanding historic and contemporary issues related to work, labor, gender, and immigration in the anthracite region.

 

Dr. Don Linebaugh is a professor of Historic Preservation at the University of Maryland, College Park. Joining the Anthracite Heritage Program in 2016, Dr. Linebaugh is helping to teach students how to document and preserve the industrial heritage of the the anthracite region. Prior to joining the University of Maryland in 2004, Dr. Linebaugh served as the Director of the Program for Archaeological Research (PAR) and a Professor of Anthropology at the University of Kentucky.

 

Kyla Cools is a doctoral student in the Anthropology Department at the University of Maryland, College Park. Specializing in historical archaeology and museum scholarship, Kyla is working to better understand the historic impact of injury and physical disability in industrial labor of the 19th and 20th century. Kyla graduated with a B.A. in Anthropology from Michigan State University.

 

Katie Boyle is a dual masters student with the Anthropology and Historic Preservation Departments at the University of Maryland, College Park. Focusing on the use of outdoor spaces, Katie is applying her skills towards digitally mapping and preserving 19th and 20th century industrial labor sites. Katie graduated with a B.A. in Anthropology from St. Mary’s College of Maryland.

 

Anne LoDico is a student at Stockton University majoring in Anthropology. Anne is interested in studying the impact of immigration on indigenous populations and subsequent cultural evolution. She is also interested in learning more about the forced process of cultural assimilation on indigenous children through boarding schools.

 

Dolly Canevari is a recent graduate of the University of Rochester with a B.A. in Cultural Anthropology and a B.M. in Applied Music Performance. Dolly will be entering law school in Fall 2018 with an emphasis on public interests, and is interested the historic impact of poverty and the facets of its continuation over time.

 

 

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