PennDOT is digging up the history about the land that will be the future site of a roundabout at the corner of Oliver and Hamot roads.
“We found about a 1000 artifacts, we’ll probably dig up 1000 more, if not 2000 more,” said Scott Shaffer, regional archaeologist, PennDOT.
Shaffer is on the team of PennDOT archaeologists and historians that are searching for historical artifacts.
He says state law requires PennDOT to do an archaeological dig before breaking ground on a major construction project. “We didn’t do this for many years, certain highways were build and they just shot a straight line, they didn’t care was there, they just built. Enough people in the country, they think it is important to spend a small fraction of bigger project budget on the history,” Shaffer added.
Once a team is done digging up artifacts, like this one, they go to whoever owns the land and asks if they want to donate the items to a history museum.
Before they start digging into the land, PennDOT historians look at a map that shows what was on the property in the past. A map of this area shows that there was a wagon shop owned and operated by the Stafford family built on the land in the 1800’s. “We don’t know a lot about wagon shops, you don’t see them often, maybe there’s something we can learn from the material, how significant is it? We won’t know until we’re done excavating the material,” said Don Burden, PennDOT historian.
Depending on how many artifacts and how much history is learned, this archaeological dig could either end in a couple of days or last two weeks.
Construction on the roundabout is expected to kick off in 2021. If PenndDOT archaeologists find the land to be historically significant then that could delay construction plans.