|By Matt Pera
|January 30, 2004
VALPARAISO -- University of Notre Dame anthropology professor Mark Schurr was pleasantly surprised when he and several of his students took a two-day trip last summer to the Collier Lodge.
The brief archaeological expedition unearthed evidence and artifacts from several historical and prehistorical periods.
Schurr discussed these findings Thursday night during a presentation called "Archaeological Surprises at the Collier Lodge: New Perspectives on Prehistoric and Historic Life on the Kankakee" at Valparaiso University's Great Hall.
The Collier Lodge, a hunting lodge in the early 20th century, is located on the Kankakee River just south of Kouts.
The group discovered prehistoric artifacts dating back to about A.D. 1,000, Native American pottery and glass from the 19th century as well as more contemporary objects from the Depression Era.
"We expected to find some things, but we didn't find what we expected," Schurr said. "We actually found a lot more."
Schurr explained that there were many purposes for investigating the land around Collier Lodge.
First of all, the expedition was meant to help the Kankakee Historical Society, which owns the site, plan future excavation.
Schurr also believes that more examination of the soil and its contents could land the Collier Lodge on the National Register of Historic Places. If that were to happen, it would become the first spot on the registry in Porter County that is not an Indian burial mound.
The project also was designed to teach students about field archeology as well as educate people living in the area about the historical significance that exists right in their back yard.
The first thing Schurr and his students did during the investigation was create an accurate map of the area, connecting the archeology of the area to surface features.
They then did geophysical surveys beneath the surface, followed by "shovel probing," which allowed the team to produce soil profiles and unearth artifacts.
Much of the material found appeared to be "day-to-day garbage," according to Schurr. Still, he said it is very useful because it can tell us about the daily lives of the people from that era.
Among the prehistoric artifacts were fire-cracked rocks used for cooking, material used to make stone tools and pieces of broken pottery. Schurr said he was 'astonished' by the amount of relics unearthed from this era.
Pottery also was found dating back to the 19th century, when Ottawa and Miami tribes were forced out of the area by pioneers.
Because of the many discoveries made by Schurr and his students last year, he will be making a similar trip to the Collier Lodge this summer.
Rather than spending only two days there, they will work in the area for about two weeks.
Schurr invited the public to attend the archaeological studies, which will take place from June 14 to June 30 and will include more geophysical surveying and shovel probing.
"Hopefully we'll find out if this is going to be National Register site or not," he said. "That's our big question."