Students excavate sites by historic Port Huron lighthouse

In a photo from June 18, 2019, from left, Hayley Ryan helps Fort Gratiot Light Station Archaeology Camp students Will Heitoff, 12, Elise DeBell, 11, and Livvy Heitoff, 13, sift through sand during an archaeological dig at the Fort Gratoit Light Station in Port Huron, Mich. About a dozen undergraduate and graduate students from Central Michigan University's archaeology field school began excavating two spots on the historic site early last week. (Brian Wells/Times Herald via AP)

By JACKIE SMITH
Port Huron Times Herald
AP Member Exchange
PORT HURON — Students are getting elbows deep digging up artifacts at two sites by the Fort Gratiot Light Station.
About a dozen undergraduate and graduate students from Central Michigan University’s archaeology field school recently began excavating two spots on the historic site.
The site also hosted a three-day, grant-funded archaeology camp for a few local middle-school students to learn from the CMU team, the Port Huron Times Herald reported.
Andrew Kercher, community engagement manager for the Port Huron Museum, said the collaborative effort is concentrating around the location of buildings that are now long gone — the former lighthouse keeper’s dwelling and old 1800s privies.
While also beneficial to have the dig visible to the passing public, he said student archaeologists might also be able to answer questions local historians and museum officials are fuzzy on.
“There’s some question as to the fate of the original keeper’s quarters,” Kercher said. The former 19th century quarters were beside where the latest dwelling still stands. “There’s kind of like local lore or legend that it burned down. There’s at least one reference to it being torn down. But that’s not really the same thing. Or maybe they tore down what was left, it’s unclear. But fortunately, archaeology might be able to answer that question.”
A week into their excavation, Sarah Surface-Evans, an associate professor of anthropology at CMU, said they largely found the sort of artifacts that they’d expect to.
“So, it was actually really surprising in a good way, we found the privy foundation almost immediately when we started excavating and we found quite a few artifacts in the area of the privy,” Surface-Evans said.