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Earliest Human Occupations in Maine Revealed at Open House

Release Date: 
October 27, 2011

Bridgewater, Maine - Last night, Northeast Archaeology Research Center presented their findings from a Native American encampment and the remains of an early 19th century mill hamlet that were discovered during the modernization project at the Bridgewater, Maine, land port of entry. U.S. Customs and Border Protection's Field Operations Facilities Program Management Office hosted an open house to share the information with the public.

During the two-hour event, attendees learned about the historic findings, and were given an opportunity to discuss the artifacts with representatives of the archaeological team. Some of the artifacts were also available for viewing.

Articfacts found in the cellar hole area near the new port of entry date to the mid-1860s.

Articfacts found in the cellar hole area near the new port of entry date to the mid-1860s.

Following federal and state legislative requirements, including the National Historic Preservation Act, CBP coordinated with state regulators and interested parties to conduct archaeological excavations from 2009 to 2011 to research and recover information about the history of the Bridgewater, Maine, area.

Investigations in the project area led to the identification of a Native American site dating to the Early Archaic period, approximately 7,000-6,000 B.C. and three separate areas contained stone tools, flakes from making stone tools and fire-cracked rocks. This site represents one of the earliest human occupations in the Prestile Stream drainage in Maine.

Further excavation in the project area also exposed tens of thousands of historic artifacts that are reflective of the early 19th century life in the hamlet. The wide range of artifacts revealed the domestic and working life at the hamlet, and included cutlery and ceramics.

Artifacts from the blacksmith and cobbler areas near the new port of entry.

Artifacts from the blacksmith and cobbler areas near the new port of entry.

The majority of the artifacts will be placed in long-term curation at the Abbe Museum in Bar Harbor, Maine, with a small set of artifacts being used for research and educational purposes.

The Bridgewater port of entry was originally constructed in 1975. Since then, there have been limited renovations, and a modernization project for the facility is funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, and is currently underway to meet modern operational, safety and technological requirements. Key elements of the Bridgewater modernization project include inbound and outbound lane systems that support inspection technologies.

Through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, Congress appropriated $420 million to the Department of Homeland Security for the modernization of CBP-owned land ports of entry. This funding is supporting the replacement and modernization of 35 ports of entry along the Northern and Southern border of the U.S., including the Bridgewater LPOE. Construction of the Bridgewater port began in May 2011 and is expected to be complete in fall 2012.

For more information about the ARRA funded CBP modernization projects, please visit CBP.gov and Recovery.gov. (www.cbp.gov) (www.recovery.gov)

Last modified: 
February 9, 2017