Place-Based Stacked Experiences

That’s a weird title! It’s trying to communicate that some places seem to host multiple experiences that don’t seem to be related. But, sometimes these “coincidences” have a common thread, other than sharing a specific location.

This picture taken in the early 1920s shows my dad and his older sister fishing with a view of the farm buildings to the south at the top of the wooded hill. The tall tree may be the large cottonwood that’s still there or it may be the actual Lone Tree itself because it didn’t fall down until 1930. This is about where the homesteaders’ children and grandchildren played along the Creek in the prior fifty years. It’s also very near the place where our children and grandchildren have fished, launched rafts, waded, and collected artifacts and bones and memories of adventures. That all happened from the 1970s up to the present time. But this is also the location of an exciting adventure that Dad had back in the early 1940s.

He was riding a horse parallel to the channel but back away from the edge of the steep bank when a beaver den collapsed under them and they fell into the hole! Fortunately neither the horse nor the rider was hurt, but it was a traumatic experience. The photo on the left shows the opening of a probable beaver den that I found just last week. It’s in almost exactly the same place as the accident, so Margaret and I did a “survey” (mostly just wading in the Creek, taking photos, and whacking at the exposed bank with a geology pick). The tunnel extends about six feet back into the bank and is about six feet from the top of the bank.

The high channel bank has a complex set of layers. The upper part is light-colored sand and dark-colored silt and clay deposited by the Creek. Below that is a layer of dark, soft clay above older glacial gravel exposed just to the north (left) of the photo. But, the opening to the beaver den is located right at water level in extremely hard gray clay that’s probably glacial till. It would be really tough digging for the beaver. The photo on the right is a view downstream from the den in the high bank toward the sandbar where an important artifact was found this past week.

The low water exposed sediments that most likely eroded from the high bank with the beaver den. This piece of pottery may have been carried by the current to the sandbar from the eroding bank. What if the beaver had help digging in the hard glacial till? What if he was actually just cleaning out a prehistoric cache pit exposed in the steep Creek bank? And, maybe that’s also what had happened back in the 1940s. Maybe Dad and his horse fell into a collapsed cache pit weakened by a burrowing beaver.

The piece of pottery is significant because it can be used to tell time. I sent a picture of it to a friend who is an archaeologist with expertise and he identified it as from the time of the Great Oasis people, about 1000 years ago. He also thought that it’s from a different vessel than the first piece of pottery that we found in this area. You can see some of the artifacts and bones at this post , see a picture of the first piece of pottery at the this post and see illustrations of cache pits here.

About Lone Tree Farm on Kanaranzi Creek

Recovering academic, earth scientist in phased retirement, farm manager by default, son, husband, father, grandfather.
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