Northern Land Use

Proposed Northern Rail Extension

Share
Tanana River, view to the south

Tanana River, view to the south

2006-2007 Survey of the Proposed Northern Rail Extension, Fairbanks to Delta Junction, Central Alaska

NLUR continued large-scale cultural resource surveys (Potter et al. 2007c) in the Tanana Valley, Central Alaska, in 2006-07 as part of environmental studies for a proposed extension of the Alaska Railroad from Fairbanks to the Delta Junction. Approximately 225 miles of main track alignment alternatives were surveyed, along with areas associated with proposed ancillary facilities. Prior to the Alaska Railroad Northern Rail Extension project, most of the previous surveys within the region focused on areas north of the river or in glaciated highlands further to the south. A majority of the alignment alternatives transected lowlands along the south side of the Tanana River that have been less focused on by archaeologists and, in general, had been considered relatively of lower potential for the location of archaeological sites when compared to highland areas.

Generalized stratigraphy and radiocarbon dates from the Little Delta Dune Site

Generalized stratigraphy and radiocarbon dates from the Little Delta Dune Site

A GIS-based predictive model was developed; subsequent surveys resulted in the subsurface testing of more than 200 localized high potential areas and the discovery of 51 prehistoric and 12 historic sites. Thirty-six components from 33 sites were C14 dated, indicating ages spanning the entire late Pleistocene to late Holocene. Of major significance was the discovery of deeply buried sites within Pleistocene sand dunes, one of which, the Little Delta Dune Site, is more than 13,000 cal. years BP, making it among the oldest sites in the Western Hemisphere (Potter et al. 2008).

The results of our surveys were presented in multi-volume reports for both the 2006 and 2007 field seasons (Potter et al. 2007a, 2007b). As part of our scope of work, we summarized this work as part of the project’s Environmental Impact Statement and prepared a draft Programmatic Agreement for the for review by agencies and interested parties.

References Cited:

Potter, B.A., J. D. Reuther, P. M. Bowers, and C. Gelvin-Reymiller
2007a Results of the 2007 Cultural Resource Survey of Proposed Alaska Railroad Northern Rail Extension Routes and Ancillary Facilities, Alaska Volumes I and II. Report for ICF Corporation and Surface Transportation Board, Washington. D.C.

Potter, B.A., Gaines, E., P. M. Bowers, and M. Proue
2007b Results of the 2006 Cultural Resource Survey of Proposed Alaska Railroad Northern Rail Extension Routes and Ancillary Facilities, Alaska Volumes I and II. Report prepared for ICF Corporation and Surface Transportation Board, Washington. D.C.

Little Delta Dune Site excavations, 2007

Little Delta Dune Site excavations, 2007

Potter, B.A., P.M. Bowers, J.D. Reuther and O.K. Mason
2007c Holocene Assemblage Variability in the Tanana Basin: NLUR Archaeological Research, 1994-2004. Alaska Journal of Anthropology, 5(1):23-42.

Potter, B.A., P.M. Bowers, J.D.Reuther, and C. Gelvin-Reymiller
2008 Little Delta Dune Site: A Late Pleistocene Multi Component Site in Central Alaska. Poster presented at the 73rd Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver B.C.