Danbury Site Preservation: A Long And Winding Road

The Danbury site’s path to preservation had many twists and turns.

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An aerial view of the Danbury site. The new preserve is the open field to the right of the houses. Credit: Gregory Spatz.
An aerial view of the Danbury site. The new preserve is the open field to the right of the houses. Credit: Gregory Spatz.

Danbury (Ohio)

Today the western basin of Lake Erie is dominated by the cities of Windsor, Detroit, and Toledo, and a myriad of small cities and towns mostly serving the vacation trade. Prehistorically, American Indians utilized the rich resources of the western basin to support sizable populations of fishers, foragers, and farmers. The archaeological sites that document their activities were once nearly ubiquitous along the shore, but today they have largely disappeared beneath modern sprawl. The Danbury site, the Conservancy’s newest Ohio preserve, had many brushes with destruction before a compromise yielded both new vacation homes and a permanent archaeological preserve.

Danbury was first recorded by amateur archaeologists in 1977, but the site received no professional attention until 1999, when cultural resource management archaeologists carried out an initial survey in advance of planned development. Unfortunately, the owners of the property disregarded the recommendations of the archaeologists, and in 2003 began earth moving without further archaeological work. Road construction soon unearthed several concentrations of midden soils, pit features, and human remains, and amateur archaeologists were given access to the site. Soon these activities came to the attention of local American Indians and the professional archaeological community, including the Ohio State Historic Preservation Office and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Summary. Read More in our FALL 2017 Issue of American Archaeology. Browse the article excerpts in our last issue SUMMER 2017 Issue.

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