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Archaeological find at Backbone Creek called ‘insignificant,’ but state has final say

Backbone Creek stabilization project

Construction along Backbone Creek in Johnson Park was paused while inspectors conducted a three-day archeological investigation after a possible prehistoric locker was found on site. Inspectors are recommending the findings be deemed insignificant. Staff photo by Brigid Cooley

After construction along Backbone Creek at Johnson Park in Marble Falls was paused because a potential archaeological find required investigation, inspectors are recommending the findings be deemed insignificant. The Texas Historical Commission will have the final say regarding necessary future action. 

The construction is part of a $6.5 million stabilization project that began earlier this year. The work was required after the 2018 flood caused severe erosion at five different sites along the creek. The inspection added $11,814 to the project total.

Because a majority of the project is funded through an Emergency Watershed Protection Program grant, which is public funding, the Texas Historical Commission requires contractors keep an archaeological inspector present during excavation work in case of any historical finds.  

In February, the site inspector found a shallow basin believed to be a prehistoric locker stocked with about 10 different rocks, City Engineer Kacey Paul said. Findings included several sandstone cobbles and some freshwater mussel shells.

In early March, a three-day-long archaeological dig conducted by Hicks & Company, an archaeological and environmental firm based in Austin, analyzed the findings. 

“The archeological site is a jumbled mixture of some prehistoric materials, (including) flakes and chunks of flint that were left over from making stone tools; historic trash and debris (in the form of) bottles, miscellaneous glass and metal; as well as some modern concrete,” Archeology Program Manager Brandon Young said in an email to 

Young said he will recommend the historical commission deem the site insignificant as findings hold no historical value.