By Ali Ali, Aaron Forman, Julianne Pyron, Aubrey Rawles, and Sam Wege
The Waterford Archaeological site is situated on the northern bank of the Cannon River, and this contains many changes in elevation. Material culture is distributed unevenly throughout the site. On the map, the tiny squares indicate trenches; one is placed within the foundations of the mill and the other is located to the southwest. Trenches are where we conducted excavations searching for material culture in context beneath the surface of the ground. Features are man-made changes in the landscape that demonstrate significance to the history of the site. The features indicated on this map include the foundations of the mill walls, a fire-pit east of the ruined mill, and a trash heap and the remains of the wall of another building (most likely a part of the mill) to the west. The final component of our map are the gridded survey squares laid out in alignment with the mill walls. All artifacts counted from the gridded survey squares have been sorted into quantities by material, as well as a total count of artifacts, for display on the map. We hope to demonstrate a pattern that could lead to an understanding of how the labor and tasks were divided within the mill, as well as shed light on the afterlife of the mill— that is, how the site has changed since the mill closed in 1896.
To get the GPS locations for our map, members of the team used Carleton’s differential global positioning system (DGPS) to take GPS points in and around the mill (Fig. 1). The DGPS, pictured above, operates using reference stations to calculate distance from satellites. The system we used is typically accurate up to a couple of centimeters, measuring horizontal position, as well as vertical altitude. The points were processed in Google Earth, and then ultimately developed into the map above using ArcGIS software.
This map contains the features, trenches, and survey units of the Waterford Mill archaeological site. Click the map above to navigate to the interactive map. Once you’re in the Waterford Map app, click through the different layers to view the features: ceramic, metals, plastic and other.
We advise that you only have one “material” layer (e.g. ceramic, metal, other) activated at a time in order to get the most accurate image of the site. You can do this by checking and unchecking boxes in the menu that will appear on the right hand side of the screen when you click the layer icon (resembling several stacked sheets of paper). You should use the zoom in (+) and zoom out (–) buttons to get a bird’s eye view or a street view, as scrolling is unreliable. Clicking the Basemap Gallery button (next to the layer button) will show you the different backgrounds and topography of the map. Finally, you have the option to share or print the map.
For more detailed archeological information, click each survey unit for gridded survey forms. Features and trenches contain attached forms and images as well. For more information on the artifacts themselves, the page on Survey and Excavation at the Waterford Mill is a good resource.
Main Mill Building
The west segment of the main mill structure is represented in our map as having a solid wall from corner to corner. It is necessary to note, however, that in the southwest corner of the structure, the wall has been largely destroyed. It is easy to enter and exit the main building here, with only a small fragment of wall remaining. Additionally, the southernmost wall, which protrudes out into the river, has largely crumbled halfway across the wall, opposite excavation trench 2. In the southeast corner of the northern structure, there is a path leading into the mill through the small break in the wall (see below for images).
Figure 3: From top to bottom, the southwest corner, the south wall, and the southeast corner of northern structure.
Gridded Survey Units
Based on our map, plastic artifacts were more highly concentrated in the northern and western survey grids. Most, if not all, of the plastic artifacts date to after the mill’s period of productivity as a flour mill. It seems likely that this side of the site has been more popular for outings such as picnics, as the center of the site can become very overgrown in the late spring and summer months. Therefore, it makes sense that people would leave plastic remains from picnics or other gatherings on this side, since it would have been more difficult to move deeper into the site. Furthermore, this side has access to the river, which may be one of the attractions of the area, especially for groups like fishing parties.
Few ceramics were recorded during the gridded surveys, but the ones recovered also came from the northwest grids like G12, G11, and H11. While ceramics would likely have been used at the mill, the ones we found mostly appeared to date to a more recent time period. While there is a small sample size of ceramics from the gridded survey, we hypothesize that ceramics resemble evidence of picnics or social gatherings in the space that once held the Waterford Mill. Many of the ceramics found had decoration, including finds with blue floral patterns and finds with green striped patterns. These further suggest that the ceramics at the site were used in a dining or social context after the end of the mill’s use, rather than in conjunction with work being done at the mill.
The gridded survey of square H12 on the northeastern side of the site yielded two likely candidates for artifacts from the actual mill itself. The objects are composed of wood and one includes a metal piece. They seem to be industrial by their size and shape, and although their specific function is not clear, there is a possibility that they may have been part of a structure or machinery used at Waterford Mill. Based on the points taken by the DGPS, the wall of the mill also runs through square H12. Therefore, this find may be related to a function that took place close to the outside, rather than towards the middle, of the mill.
Metal remains were found in each grid surveyed. The location of the highest concentration of metal were grids F12 and G11. During the time of the mill, metal machinery would have been a key component to the grinding of flour, the main function of the mill. Many of the metal artifacts also consisted of scraps made from tin, plates, and other building parts. Metals accumulated at some of the features, such as feature 5 and trench 1 at feature 2. Trench 1 even produced two metallic fountain pen nibs, which most likely date to the mill itself; perhaps the mill’s main office was situated above this spot. A number of the artifacts mentioned above, however, likely date to a period after the mill closed down, discarded by nearby residents or passersby. To confirm this, further research is required in order to more accurately date these items.
Patterns observed in the spatial distribution of metals suggest that some of the more intense mill operations, such as moving wheat and grinding it thoroughly, took place in the eastern portion of the mill. This area lies closer to the Cannon River which powered the milling machinery, further strengthening this hypothesis. The metal remains of the fountain pen serve as evidence of the administrative work done for the mill. Due to issues with the preservation of paper documents, this aspect of the mill’s life has left behind fewer material culture remains than the more purely mechanical side of things.
Feature 5, indicated on the map in orange, is the second building of the mill structure. Unfortunately, even fewer foundations remain of this structure compared to other areas of the mill; it could not be matched to what we assumed the building would have looked like. We ended up recording an “L” shaped feature, documented in the feature form. The shape of the second building on the map reflects the DGPS points taken of the structure. Scattered around the entire area were some artifacts including bits of metal, shards of glass, and ceramic sherds. One of the most interesting artifacts found by the survey team was an almost-complete leather shoe (Fig. 7). The shoe appeared to be older, as the leather is fairly deteriorated and has nails in the soles.
Our findings are consistent with the narrative that there was a mill at the site of our gridded survey and excavation. The wall’s structural layout and location next to a river are similar to those of other mills in the area that we visited as a class. For example, the Archibald Mill is built both on top of the land and into the river just like Waterford’s, and uses the same rectangular architectural style. Archibald Mill’s stone also appears to be of a similar sturdy variety, perhaps quarried locally, and has withstood decades of weathering after the mill fell out of operation. Our visit to Archibald Mill provided us with an idea of how Waterford Mill might look if its walls were still erect. We can see by its position on the river in the GIS map, however, that the foundations of the Waterford Mill match the layout of Archibald Mill’s with respect to its position between land and river.
Finally, the GIS map does an excellent job displaying the walls and features of Waterford Mill in a way that cannot be seen from being at the site due to plants and uneven terrain. Many aspects of the mill remain completely hidden even with a close examination of satellite and LiDAR imaging. In order to understand the full site layout and gain a true sense of its spatial relations, it is imperative that one explores the GIS map attached to this webpage.
Our team would like to thank Alex Knodell, Clarissa Smith, Elise McIlhaney, and Carleton GIS Specialist Wei Hsin Fu for all of their help with the data collection and software use.