ROLLA, Mo.– Mark Twain National Forest is looking for volunteers to continue to document historic Trail of Tears on Mark Twain National Forest’s Poplar Bluff Ranger District March 26-31, 2012, including weekends.
Applications to volunteer are due by Monday, February 13, 2012.
The week-long project is the second phase of a Passport in Time project. Passport in Time is a USDA Forest Service volunteer archaeology and historic preservation program.
Passport in Time’s goal is to preserve the nation’s past with volunteer help. Volunteers work with professional Forest Service archaeologists on diverse activities such as surveys and excavation, rock art restoration, historic structure restoration, analysis of artifacts, and more.
In the 1830s, approximately 100,000 American Indians from the Cherokee, Creek, Seminole, and Choctaw nations, among others, were forcibly removed from Southeastern U.S. homelands and marched to reservations in what is now Oklahoma.
Many suffered from exposure, disease, and starvation while en route to their destinations, and many died, including 4,000 of the 15,000 relocated Cherokee.
Approximately 30 miles of the Old Military Road (a.k.a. Natchitoches Trace) that served as this sad pathway crosses Mark Twain National Forest as part of the Benge Route of the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail. Almost half of that land is managed by Poplar Ranger District.
“Thanks to a successful Passport In Time project last year, nearly all extant trail segments through the Forest have been identified and their locations have been accurately mapped with a resource grade GPS unit,” said Mark Twain National Forest Heritage Program Manager Keri Hicks.
In this second phase of the project, volunteers will help photograph and document each segment in detail, including preparing individual feature forms that will be used to supplement the existing site record.
“We will also sweep a metal detector across the surface and perform cruciform shovel testing to determine presence/absence of a sub-surface component,” Hicks said. “We will also record width, depth, terrain, vegetation, and any disturbances to the Trail and the cultural landscape. We will make particular note of segments in need of immediate management action. This is an important project and, once again, one that promises to be as fun as it will be interesting. “
Volunteers need to be at least 12 years old; under 18 accompanied by a responsible adult.
Helpful skills include previous archaeological survey and mapping, sketching, GPS use, and/or photography experience helpful, but not required
Tent and RV camping available at no charge at Markham Springs Recreation Area. Water, showers, vault toilets; lodge house available at Markham Springs Recreation Area; water, showers, flush toilets; rental fees apply.
Greenville and Poplar Bluff are full-service communities with motels, restaurants, and a range of other amenities; volunteers responsible for personal camping equipment/lodging, meals, extra water, and transportation.