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W&L Students Partner on Jordan’s Point Project

Today, Lexington’s Jordan’s Point, a city park located on an island and peninsula formed by Woods Creek, the Maury River and an old mill race, is known as a good place to start a leisurely kayak ride down the Maury. In the late 18th and 19th centuries, however, Jordan’s Point was a hub of industrial and transportation activity.

Now Washington and Lee’s Archaeology Program is joining forces with the Historic Lexington Foundation (HLF) to conduct research on the area as part of HLF’s effort to get Jordan’s Point designated as a state and national historic district.

Approximately 40 students from Washington and Lee spent a Sunday afternoon last month digging test pits at the site under the direction of Alison Bell ’91, associate professor of archaeology, and Don Gaylord, staff archaeologist.

The work uncovered brick and limestone rubble associated with at least one 19th-century structure, according to a new release from HLF. Some of the artifacts (buttons, pieces of ceramic cups, etc.) pointed to household activity, while others (railroad spikes and part of a shoe from a draft animal) were related to transportation and industrial uses.

Alison noted that the archaeological record can fill out the history of Jordan’s Point: “The area is remembered as the location of Union troops crossing into Lexington in June of 1864, but less is known, by the public or researchers, about the many people who lived and worked, year after year, on the point in various capacities. We’re hoping archaeology will provide insights into their daily lives.”

Don Hasfurther, executive director of HLF, said the partnership with W&L’s Archaeology Program is essential, since archaeology will be an important element of the historic district nomination.

The Jordan’s Point work is part of the W&L’s ongoing outreach to the community, which has included recent work at the McDowell Cemetery, south of Fairfield, and the development of the Historical Archaeology Collective (HAC).