WWE has been handling a well drilling and construction project at Buena Vista, drawing water from the alluvium of the Arkansas River, since November 2014. While excavating last year, the contractor encountered an ancient hearth about three feet below the modern ground surface.
Immediately upon the hearth’s discovery, the Town Manager, the State Archaeologist and a Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Archaeologist were contacted. The initial judgment, after examining the evidence, was that the fire pit was a significant find that had been left largely intact by ancient people and in good condition. The archaeologist who visited the site and took both charcoal and fill samples indicated that this was a significant archaeological discovery that may shed additional light on the history, lifestyles and diets of the people native to Colorado.
In response to the discovery, WWE, the Town of Buena Vista and the BLM joined together to have pertinent material collected and dated using Carbon-14 dating technology. Following the analysis of a charcoal sample in which the tree rings were still visible, it was determined that this hearth was being used around 480 B.C. (+/-30 years). Around the time that the ancient Greeks were battling the Persians at Thermopylae, on the other side of the world, a band of late-Archaic-period Native Americans were huddled around this hearth, likely preparing a meal.
The Town of Buena Vista has chosen to relocate and realign the well project to preserve this cultural resource and reduce further impacts to the site. The town has continued to pursue options to further investigate the site and to learn more about it and its history.
WWE’s Karl Kingery and Patricia Flood are helping with this realignment and relocation project and are working closely with the contractor, Shawn Shake of Whitewater Systems, and the Town’s Gregg Maggard.