An Archaeological Survey of the Clifty Creek Reservoir Basin, Bartholomew and Decatur Counties, Indiana

Part of the Clifty Creek 1969 project

Author(s): Claude White

Year: 1969


The archaeological survey of the Clifty Creek Reservoir basin was conducted to locate sites occurring in that area which would be destroyed by the water of the reservoir, and to recommend salvage operations for those whose cultural affiliations or size were of importance to the understanding of the prehistory of the area. The survey was financed under Purchase Order, 950-336 of the National Park Service, with living expenses and transportation provided by Indiana University.

The Clifty Creek Reservoir will be located in Bartholomew and Decatur Counties, on Clifty Creek, a tributary of the East Fork of the White River, with the dam located 18.4 miles above the mouth of Fall Creek. It will control the run-off from a drainage area above the dam of 140 square miles. The main dam is aligned 19º West of North across the stream and will consist of a concrete river section with earth embankments extending to each abutment with a maximum height of 85 feet and a total length of 6,580 feet at the top elevation of 750 mean sea level. An earth dike will be required across a low point in the valley rim about .4 miles south of the dam. It will be 2000 feet long with a maximum height of 10 feet and a top elevation of 750 feet. An earth level about 3000 feet long, with drainage facilities will be provided to prevent reservoir encroachment on the town of Hartsville.

The Reservoir is intended for flood control, general recreation, and fish and wildlife recreation. A permanent pool covering 548 acres will be maintained at elevation 705 and will have a storage capacity of 7,655 acre-feet in a pool five miles long. Above the permanent pool, a storage capacity of 48,553 acre-feet will be reserved for storage of flood flows. At full pool elevation 745, the reservoir will cover 2,390 acres.

During the survey, twenty-one sites were located in Bartholomew County, including seventeen camp sites and three mounds, two of which were discovered to be natural features, and five sites located in Decatur County, including three camps, one mound, and one stone mound. Not all of the sites located in this survey fall directly within the reservoir, but they are reported here even though they are not in danger destruction by the water.

Most of the sites located in this survey appear to be small, Archaic camp sites with shallow deposits. Thus, the plow zone has destroyed the context in which the sites have occurred, and excavation, while it would yield the material remains, would not increase the understanding of the life-way of these people. Both Woodland and Mississippian peoples also utilized this area, but not to the extent of the Archaic peoples. Perhaps this is a function of the drier conditions of the Hypsithermal, or the introduction of agriculture may have caused a shift in the utilization of the area.

However, the burial mounds found -12B18, 12DE2, and 12DE5 – most probably fall within the Woodland period, indicating Woodland occupation in the area, even though none were found in the survey. Only possible campsites (i.e., short, non-ceramic occupations) were found, and these were few in number.

Excavation of all of these mounds is recommended, but only 12B18 and 12DE5 may be in danger of destruction by the reservoir. A preliminary investigation was recommended; however, potting may have effectively destroyed the contexts (White 1969).

Cite this Record

An Archaeological Survey of the Clifty Creek Reservoir Basin, Bartholomew and Decatur Counties, Indiana. Claude White. 1969 ( tDAR id: 402774) ; doi:10.6067/XCV8M047FK

This Resource is Part of the Following Collections

Spatial Coverage

min long: -86.063; min lat: 39.103 ; max long: -85.722; max lat: 39.327 ;

Record Identifiers

National Park Service Purchase Order No.(s): 950-336


General Note: The digital materials in this collection were processed by the Veterans Curation Program (VCP), and include the artifact report, artifact database, finding aid, original investigation report, and scanned asset key. Additional digital materials held by the VCP include the box inventory, card stock inserts, document folder listing, GBL artifact inventory, GBL catalog, and initial data collection. For additional information on these materials, refer to the Finding Aid.

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Contact(s): US Army Corps of Engineers Mandatory Center of Expertise for the Curation and Management of Archaeological Collections, St. Louis District