Public Archaeology Laboratory (PAL) – December 2016 

The Public Archaeology Laboratory, Inc. (PAL) is providing cultural resources services in support of the Remediation Project.  PAL’s work at the site was ongoing throughout 2016, and the following narrative and photographs provide a summary of their work completed to date to document the seawall removal, excavation, and reconstruction; and progress on the marine railways documentation and recordation.

Project contractors removed the historic granite wharf and adjacent soils in Solomon Jacobs Park during the fall of 2015 and winter of 2016. Excavations uncovered several components relating to historical gas manufacturing activities at the site. These consisted of large concrete footings, remnants of brick walls and foundations, and piping.

Below these more recent archaeological remains, the lower soils behind the wharf were composed of fill. Previous occupants of the site had dumped this material into the harbor as they “wharfed out” their property to create more usable land. Mixed into this fill were large amounts of granite rubble salvaged from Cape Anne’s many quarries, as well as isolated cultural artifacts such as shoes and broken bottles.

Solomon Jacobs Park and seawall at the beginning of remediation activities (PAL photo).

Solomon Jacobs Park and seawall at the beginning of remediation activities (PAL photo).

Concrete footings of the Former Gloucester MGP buildings in fill within Solomon Jacobs Park (Anchor QEA photo).

Concrete footings of the Former Gloucester MGP buildings in fill within Solomon Jacobs Park (Anchor QEA photo).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

During excavation of impacted soils, contractors carefully removed and cleaned the seawall granite to save it for a new park seawall (PAL photo).

During excavation of impacted soils, contractors carefully removed and cleaned the seawall granite to save it for a new park seawall (PAL photo).

Solomon Jacobs Park seawall was removed during the winter of 2015–2016 (PAL photo).

Solomon Jacobs Park seawall was removed during the winter of 2015–2016 (PAL photo).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Solomon Jacobs Park seawall was rebuilt in the winter and spring of 2016. The Project team designed and built a new wall that would be compatible with Gloucester Harbor’s historical character and meet stringent engineering requirements.

Employees of Custom Stone Builders lay out courses of the Solomon Jacobs Park seawall in the Remediation Support Area (PAL photo).

Employees of Custom Stone Builders lay out courses of the Solomon Jacobs Park seawall in the Remediation Support Area (PAL photo).

Careful handling and placement of stones while working “in the wet”.

Careful handling and placement of stones while working “in the wet”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PAL made regular visits during seawall reconstruction for observation and recordation of the contractor’s work progress (PAL photo).

PAL made regular visits during seawall reconstruction for observation and recordation of the contractor’s work progress (PAL photo).

The seawall nears completion in the May 2015 (PAL photo).

The seawall nears completion in May 2016 (PAL photo).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Project contractors completed pre-dredge debris removal in the near shore areas of the historic marine railway structures in September 2016. The debris removal was performed by commercial divers assisted by a barge-based large machine-excavator that was used to lift items rigged by the divers out of the water and into a hopper barge. PAL’s marine archaeologist from DSRA inspected and recorded historic marine railway elements and other debris that were found by the divers lying on or extending above the surface of the inner harbor floor. Marine railway elements include pieces of wood railway timbers and iron. Included among the recovered wood elements are intact and fragmentary pieces of the inactive marine railway’s rails, cross-ties, and chocking-timber components of the inactive marine railway’s cradle. The iron pieces are fragments and intact sections of the inactive marine railway’s iron strapping with fasteners that were formerly attached to the top of the railway’s wooden rails.

Dredging work to remove contaminated sediments and portions of the inactive marine railway extending to the 2004 Gloucester Harbor Commissioner’s Line began in November 2016. PAL’s marine archaeologist will continue with the field monitoring and recordation work for any components of the historic marine railways that are encountered and removed from the harbor floor during dredging.

Overview of pre-dredging debris removal in the area of the historic (inactive) marine railway (DSRA photo).

Overview of pre-dredging debris removal in the area of the historic (inactive) marine railway (DSRA photo).

Debris removed from the underwater area of the inactive historic marine railway—pile of steel cable with complete marine rail timber in the foreground (DSRA photo).

Debris removed from the underwater area of the inactive historic marine railway—pile of steel cable with complete marine rail timber in the foreground (DSRA photo).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Profile view of a rail timber showing where preferential preservation of the wood reveals the locations, widths and spacing of the marine railway’s wooden cross-ties (DSRA photo).

Profile view of a rail timber showing where preferential preservation of the wood reveals the locations, widths and spacing of the marine railway’s wooden cross-ties (DSRA photo).

The ends of the inactive marine railway’s complete rail timbers terminate in nibbed flat scarf joints that were secured with iron fasteners (DSRA photo).

The ends of the inactive marine railway’s complete rail timbers terminate in nibbed flat scarf joints that were secured with iron fasteners (DSRA photo).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cradle chocking timber recovered from the inactive marine railway (left image) (DSRA photo).

Cradle chocking timber recovered from the inactive marine railway (left image) (DSRA photo).

Composite cradle chocking timber recovered from the inactive marine railway (left image) and the same timber type seen in the base of a cradle chock on the active marine railway (right image) (DSRA photos).

The same timber type seen in the base of a cradle chock on the active marine railway (right image) (DSRA photo).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fastener holes, remnant fasteners, and the impressions of the iron strapping left behind in residual corrosion on the upper surface of some of the rail timbers provides information on the iron strapping’s locations and dimensions (DSRA photo).

Fastener holes, remnant fasteners, and the impressions of the iron strapping left behind in residual corrosion on the upper surface of some of the rail timbers provides information on the iron strapping’s locations and dimensions (DSRA photo).

Iron strapping preserved on the upper surface of one of two complete rail timbers that was recovered during pre-dredging debris removal (DSRA photo).

Iron strapping preserved on the upper surface of one of two complete rail timbers that was recovered during pre-dredging debris removal (DSRA photo).