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Scull Shoals Archaeology | Passport In Time
Native Americans lived around Scull Shoals for over 10,000 years, and possibly much longer.  Archaeological excavations in the area produced spear points, scrapers, and other stone tools dating to the Early Archaic Period (8,000-1,000 BC).  Pottery and stone tools from the Woodland (1,000 BC – AD 900) and Mississippi (AD 900 – 1540) periods are also frequently found in the area.  The Lamar period mound town of Scull Shoals is located only about two miles north of the mill town, so the heaviest prehistoric occupations are from the last few hundred years before the Europeans arrived.

Palmer Point, ca. 6,000 BC (Early Archaic)

Lamar Pottery sherds, 1350-1600 (Late Mississippian)

Archaeology began around Scull Shoals mill village in 1977, with occasional shovel tests done by Dr. Kent Schneider, prior to planned Forest Service activities.   He also instigated coring of the riverbed, to show the depth of the siltation (then 6-13 feet) above the blue granite of the shoals. Dr. Schneider contracted for a written history of the village by Mrs. Caroline Hunt. The written history was to guide archaeological investigations in the village.   Test excavations continued through the 1990’s, under direction of Forest Service archaeologists Dr. Jack T. Wynn, Rebecca E. Bruce and Jill K. Harrell.

1997 PIT Volunteers work at Manager’s House

1998 PI crew works at Boarding House

In 1997, 1998, and 1999, three two-week summer test excavation projects were done by volunteer archaeologists in the Passport In Time program, under direction of F.S. Heritage Program Manager Jack Wynn and Judson Kratzer, of Armstrong-Atlantic State University in Savannah. They investigated the Manager’s House (1997), the Boarding house (1998), and in 1999, portions of the original grist mill foundations, and two structures in the town center.  One was apparently a mill worker’s house and the other possibly a workshop, built so as to overlay the old house place.  They also got help from the Shallow Seismology classes, led by Drs. Ervan Garrison of UGA, and Kent Schneider, of USFS.

UGA students use Ground-penetrating Radar (GPR)

Dr. Kent Schneider teaches GPR students PIT Volunteers work on double-chimney 1999

Volunteers uncover Grist Mill Remains

In the fall of 1999, a possible post mold from Fort Clark was found near the back of the standing ruins of the warehouse and store

Donna Shaw digs Ft. Clark post mold

Mocha-style pot sherd from Ft. Clark post mold

The Mocha-style pottery sherd was made between 1780 and 1820, neatly bracketing the known construction date of the fort in 1793 by Lt. Michael Cupp.  The fort was built to defend the settlers from the Creek Indians living across the Oconee River, and was used for only about 10 years.

Additional work was done over three additional years on various structures and other features within the village.  They included another mill worker house, portions of a second warehouse, the root cellar of a third structure, and the tops of the stone archway bringing water from the raceway into the turbine in the powerhouse foundations.  Over 100 volunteers, both amateur and professionals, worked on 21 weekends in the field and laboratory from November 1999 through May 2003.

Sommers Family at Brick Excavation

Brick Corner Pier for Shop Building

Stone Arch for water Entry to Power Mill

Overlapping house outlines found in 1999 Dig

Late 18-Early 19th Century pottery and beads

Tavern Pipe stems, dated with drill bit ca. 1830

Two reports are now available! Bob Skarda has written one on the History of Scull Shoals. The other is on the PIT archaeology project from 1999-2003 by Jack Wynn. See Gift Shop for more details on how to order them.
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