LEMOYNE, Pa. (WHTM) — At Memorial Park in Lemoyne, one of the state’s newest historical markers marks an old native American settlement-one which might never have been uncovered if a railroad hadn’t wanted to lay some new track.
In the early 2000s, Norfolk Southern Railway wanted to acquire about an acre and a half of Memorial Park land, to construct a connector between two of their main rail lines. Under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act, they needed to conduct an archeological dig to see if there was anything of historical value.
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The archeologists started digging in 2005 and quickly realized they were on to something big. Under the park was a village belonging to the Susquehannock Nation, with a wooden palisade, a longhouse, and food storage pits. In all, they found about 100,000 artifacts. Things like a ceramic bear, fishing net sinkers, and shards of clay pots. These included pieces of “face pots”, high collared pottery with stylized faces on the upper edges, a rather distinctive style of the Susquehannocks.
They also found glass beads which, along with bits of iron and brass, pointed to contact with Dutch traders around Delaware bay and English settlers in Jamestown, Virginia. Archeologists were able to determine the site was occupied from 1610 to 1624.
This site told us a lot about where and when the Susquehannocks settled, how their villages were organized, and their early interactions with the Europeans.
And, oh yes, with the archeological excavations done, Norfolk Southern was able to build its connector line.