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Ball State wins archeological grants for two Henry County projects

Courier-Times Staff Report

MUNCIE — Ball State University received two federal grants, together totalling just under $100,000, to continue archeological surveys at Summit Lake State Park and in the Wilbur Wright Fish & Wildlife Area.

The grants are from the Indiana Department of Natural Resources’s (DNR) Division of Historic Preservation & Archaeology (DHPA).

The funds come from the National Park Service, a part of the U.S. Department of the Interior, which distributes federal funds to the states through the Historic Preservation Fund Program. Since 1974, the state has awarded more than $18 million to Indiana communities through this program.

DHPA helps strengthen Indiana’s historical and cultural heritage through annual federal grants it administers to local communities and not-for-profit groups that these organizations put toward preservation projects.

Ball State University will receive a $49,999 grant to conduct an archaeological survey of Summit Lake State Park. The park is owned by the DNR and consists of 2,680 acres, including the 800-acre Summit Lake and the 120-acre Zeigler Woods Nature Preserve.

The project will conduct a Phase Ia investigation of unsurveyed areas, including a geophysical survey of two possible mounds and a shovel test pit survey of approximately 30 acres surrounding each mound (a total of about 60 acres), which is approximately 2.2 percent of the park. The objective is to document the prehistoric and historic cultural resources, to assist the park and preserve with future resource management planning and determine potential eligibility for the National Register.

Ball State University will also receive a $49,999 grant to conduct the second phase of an archaeological survey of the Wilbur Wright Fish & Wildlife Area, which consists of 1,070 acres of Blue River Valley floodplains and associated uplands and is currently used as a fishing and hunting area.

The Wilbur Wright FWA is also the former site of the New Castle State Hospital and encompasses several major prehistoric sites, which have been investigated extensively in the past. However, portions of the Wilbur Wright FWA remain unsurveyed. This project will conduct a Phase Ia shovel test pit survey of about 52 acres of fallow agricultural land west of the Big Blue River. In 2018, about eight acres of the field were surveyed, and artifacts recovered are indicative of sustained habitation in the area. The Fiscal Year 2019 project will complete the investigation of the area, which will help define the true nature and location of the reported site and determine potential eligibility for the National Register.