Archaeological Investigation of the New Geneva Pottery Waster/Loading Dock Site (36FA404), New Geneva, Fayette County, Pennsylvania


Archeological investigations were conducted at 36FA404, the New Geneva Pottery Waster/Loading Dock Site. Field work consisted of both manually and mechanically excavated test units and trenches. Portions of the waster dump used by the New Geneva potters in the final two decades of the nineteenth century and into the early years of the twentieth century were excavated on Lot 167. Excavations on Lot 166 recovered artifacts associated with the Arthur Robbins’ pottery (circa 1907-1914). The artifacts were used as backfill for railroad construction. Along the Monongahela River shore a buried in situ deposit of ceramics was found and appears to date, like the deposits on Lot 167, from the final twenty years of the nineteenth century and into the first decade of the twentieth century. No documentary or archeological evidence was found indicating that a wharf or dock was present at 36FA404. Archeological evidence of the location of Ford Street was discovered in one of the excavation units, and a drain-like feature was found running parallel to the street. The road was used in the movement of pottery between the kilns and the Monongahela River.

Over 66,000 artifacts were recovered from the current and previous investigations conducted at the site. Diagnostic and non-diagnostic stoneware and redware sherds, along with significant amounts of kiln furniture and misfired ceramics were found throughout the site, as well as small amounts of non-pottery related artifacts, such as glass containers, refined ceramics, nails, bone, spikes, and leather. Brick, slag,and coal in abundance were also recovered.

The archeological and historical evidence has yielded data related to the production and transport of New Geneva stoneware. Historical records suggest that the upper Monongahela River potteries produced a somewhat limited range of vessel types, but may have been known for the large capacity jars and chums they manufactured. Later potters at the site produced predominantly jug forms, and the archeological record contained numerous examples of these vessels. The distribution of New Geneva stonewares seems to have been throughout the local region, and into the Ohio and Mississippi River valleys. By the end of the nineteenth century, as production failed to keep up with mechanized pottery factories located in the vicinity of Pittsburgh, the New Geneva potters apparently chose to produce for an increasingly local clientele.

The New Geneva Pottery Waster/Loading Dock Site (36FA404) is recommended eligible for the National Register of Historic Places for the data it contains pertaining to the nineteenth and early twentieth century ceramic industry in New Geneva and due to its association with the New Geneva Pottery Site (36FA91) located across Route 166, and with the New Geneva Historic District, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The site consists of the redeposited waster debris and secondary deposition resulting from the construction of the railroad overpass and incidental breakage during transport.

Although the site is considered significant as an archeological resource contributing to the New Geneva Historic District, no additional archeological field work is recommended. Archeological investigations at the site recovered artifact assemblages and related data that constitute a sample of the range and variety of data available from the site. Accordingly, it is our opinion that the planned construction activities will have no adverse effect upon significant archeological resources at Site 36FA404.

Cite this Record

Archaeological Investigation of the New Geneva Pottery Waster/Loading Dock Site (36FA404), New Geneva, Fayette County, Pennsylvania. Wade P. Catts, John P. McCarthy, Thomas M. Johnson. 1995 ( tDAR id: 426083) ; doi:10.6067/XCV8426083

Spatial Coverage

min long: -80.026; min lat: 39.743 ; max long: -79.887; max lat: 39.993 ;


General Note: The digital materials in this collection were processed by the Veterans Curation Program (VCP), and include the artifact database, artifact report, finding aid, original investigation report, scanned asset key, and select artifact photographs. Additional digital materials held by the VCP include additional artifact photographs, box inventory, document folder listing, initial data collection, and personal notes. 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