Historical Society of Frankford December Program

Douglas Mooney, Senior Archaeologist URS Corporation

I am a sucker for archaeology so naturally there I sat with 35 other folks wondering if there is any value in digging up the remnants of an old canal in Philadelphia.  The program for this month was the “Aramingo Canal Excavation”.  It was presented by Douglas B. Mooney M.A. Senior Archaeologist with the URS Corporation.  So why are they digging in Philadelphia in the first place?  Government says they have to.  If the government is financing a construction project, the law says the archaeologists have to go in first and see if there is anything of value there.  If there is they document, retrieve, preserve and do their thing.

Most of the digging being done now is the result of highway projects and the canal area is related to reconstruction of I95 north of center city. The discussion was fascinating on several levels.  First that new discoveries are now being made about native American settlements in Philadelphia that nobody knew about until this type of dig uncovered the evidence.  Next that the area outside of center city is relatively undisturbed they are finding many, many artifacts of the people who inhabited the area.  There was even one example of a living descendant being on hand as the archaeologist uncovered artifacts deposited by his family.

Mr. Mooney was accompanied by Ingrid Wuebber a URS Historian and Rebecca White the RS laboratory manager.  They managed to make the investigation of

Rebecca White and Ingrid Wuebber URS Corporation

privies look really glamorous.

The meeting included an extensive question and answer period where everyone got to interrogate Mr. Mooney.  He was never without a ready and interesting response.  The artifacts on display were unique and well worth the trip in themselves.

At the end of the meeting were the usual refreshments and a spell of Christmas carols in keeping with the season.  What a nice way to wrap up the year.  There will be no meetings in January and February.  Meetings will resume on March 8thwith a behind the scenes tour.  Don’t miss that one.

This is a link to a slide show of some shots from the meeting.  One of special interest is a photo from one of the historic scrap books from the HSF collection which is dated 7/4/1924 that talks about the Aramingo canal which then was almost recent history.  Have a look below.  If you click on the image you can read all about it.

Scrapbook page from the HSF collection

  • Jim

    what are “dummies”? I’m guessing they’re a trolley but I’ve never heard that term before.

  • Gil

    They were some kind of trolley. http://www.junipercivic.com/historyArticle.asp?nid=31
    I am interested in the history of trolleys in the city because it looks like the Smileys followed the trolley lines as the expanded throughout the city. Tht brought them to Frankford in about 1890.