Archive for Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Workers busy at Black Jack Battlefield site

November 22, 2006

It's a busy day at the Black Jack Battlefield site with two separate but important projects underway.

A team of battlefield archeologists has returned to search for proof of the battle 150 years ago and a crew hired by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment is busy clearing tons of illegally dumped trash from the area.

Prior to the 150th anniversary of the battle in June, the same team of archeologists used metal detectors to search the battlefield site for bullets and other signs of the struggle. So far, nothing has been found.

"They're looking again, plus some of the people who found things with metal detectors back in the '70s are supposed to be here today to show them where they found what they found," said Kerry Altenbernd, a member of the Black Jack Battlefield Trust who has participated in both searches.

The archeologists arrived in Baldwin City Thursday and searched half of the site then and the other half today. On Saturday, the crew will move across the road to the area where the ruts from the Santa Fe Trail can be seen to search it.

"We hope to find something," said Altenbernd. "We've found a lot of places where there isn't anything."

The KDHE effort is massive. The illegal dump site contains hundreds of tires, countless refrigerators and washing machines and just about any other type of junk. It has been estimated the site could have been used for 100 years, but the majority of the trash has been put there in the last 50 years, said Bob Medina, an environmental scientist in KDHE's Bureau of Waste Management.

"We're estimating that there's 100 tons of trash there," said Medina. "It's amazing what all is in there."

It is expected that the contractor will have all the trash moved by next week, said Altenbernd. Cost of the project could be as high as $100,000, which KDHE is paying for because it represents a potential health hazard when the battlefield site becomes a national park.

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