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State Archeologist: Overland, Cherokee Trail Site In Albany County Rich With Artifacts

Native American trade beads uncovered at the Willow Creek Site near Tie Siding in Albany County.
Jeff Victor
Wyoming Public Radio
State Archeologist Spencer Pelton shows off some recently unearthed Native American trade beads, which used to decorate clothing. The beads were uncovered at the Willow Creek Site in Albany County.

An archeological dig site in Albany County has turned up a treasure trove of old artifacts after a dig was conducted last week.

The Willow Creek site outside of Tie Siding has been a known archeological hotspot since University of Wyoming archeologist William Malloy excavated the area decades ago.

The Willow Creek site sits along a travel corridor used by those on the Overland Trail, and before that the Cherokee Trail. The travel corridor was likely well-traveled by humans and animals for hundreds of years before Westerners arrived, according to State Archeologist Spencer Pelton, who was on-site last week.

That history has left the Willow Creek site rich with artifacts — from shell casings to arrowheads, stone tools, ceramics, animal bones and more.

Pelton said the location provides a good place to camp, establish a fire and even bathe in the water — it's also considered a good place to stop for bison, elk and pronghorn sheep on the move.

"It's an oasis in a pretty arid place," he said.

With permission from the landowner, Pelton and others, including volunteers, excavated the site last week and uncovered even more artifacts. Once they are cataloged and studied by the university, those artifacts will be returned to the landowner.

Jeff is a part-time reporter for Wyoming Public Media, as well as the owner and editor of the Laramie Reporter, a free online news source providing in-depth and investigative coverage of local events and trends.
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