Legacy Project #1741: Archaeological Survey of the United States Naval Academy Shoreline
Aiello, Elizabeth A.
Seidel, John L.
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The University of Maryland, College Park (UMCP) and Engineering Field Activity Chesapeake engaged in a cooperative agreement for the purpose of conducting a survey of the Naval Academy's shoreline. This survey was to include historical research and remote sensing investigations. The project location included the area from the Academy's Spa Creek boundary near City Dock, around the core of the property, up College Creek to the bridge on the Naval Academy which parallels the Dorsey Creek Bridge on King George Street, and around the shoreline of the Naval Medical Clinic to the old Severn River Bridge. Archival research produced information regarding land reclamation and acquisition by the Naval Academy since its establishment on Windmill Point, as well as the history of land use prior to the Academy's existence. The Naval Academy, established in 1845 on the grounds of Fort Severn, has had a significant effect upon the shoreline over the years. Lands along the waterfront have been used for a variety of purposes including defensive works, basins, docks and wharfage, and training exercises. Prior to 1845, the shoreline areas were used by civilians for such things as ferryboat landings, shipbuilding operations and docks. Past industrial activities include the existence of lumber yards and oyster packing plants. It is probable that traces of many of these resources exist beneath the "reclaimed" lands of the Academy and the water immediately fronting its shoreline. This investigation was undertaken to determine the extent of this possibility. Archival research yielded records of filling and dredging operations around the Academy. Cartographic research and the digitized map overlays revealed the location of earlier shorelines and shore installations, making it possible to highlight areas of potential archaeological sensitivity beneath the landfill. Further evidence of such buried resources came from other sources. Photographs were located at the Academy's Department of Public Works which show well-preserved "old sea walls" being uncovered during "new building" construction in 1919 on the grounds of the Academy. While documentary research concentrated on buried shorelines which are now inland, concealed beneath fill, other investigations concentrated upon the current waterline and river bottom adjacent to the Academy. Remote sensing operations detected 65 anomalies located in the waters of the Severn River, College Creek and the Annapolis Harbor off the Academy's shoreline. These anomalies were investigated by divers from the University of Maryland, College Park, with the assistance of volunteers. Anomalies were located using a Systematic Differential Global Positioning System and investigated by the dive team. Anomalies identified by the divers included anchors, anchor chain, and iron pipes of various sizes. The majority of the anomalies, however, are buried beneath the silt and sediment of the river; they could not be located without disturbance of bottom sediments.