Fires in the Black Hills have been on the rise this week, but so far, Team 1 has been involved in other aspects of the National Forests programs.
This week, we got the chance to work the Mystic RD Heritage Department, which deals with historic and prehistoric archaeological sites throughout the forest. On Monday, we heard an introductory presentation on archaeological methods and the types of sites in the Black Hills. In the Hills, mining sites comprise many of the recorded historic areas. Later that day, we helped maintain Miller Cabin, one of the first homestead sites in the area, by applying linseed oil to the wooden exterior, which helps protect it from the elements. We also got to visit a cabin at the Elmo Canyon Mine, where we removed hazardous dead fuels to mitigate fire risk.
On Tuesday and Wednesday, we learned how to survey, record, and describe a historic site at the Empire Mine and Gold Mountain Mine, both of which contained numerous pieces of equipment, including the remains of a furnace, workshop, crane, and multiple mine shafts. It was interesting to piece together a more complete picture of the past from the limited data the remain.
On Thursday, we visited the Carr Cemetery, another historic site where generations of South Dakota homesteaders and their descendents have been buried. We helped maintain the site, by weed-wacking and removing small trees from the burial grounds, and by rebuilding sections of old fence that have since fallen into disrepair. It has been an intriguing week working with a department with which none of us has had much experience before.