Category Archives: NORTH AMERICA

Haunting chalkboard drawings, frozen in time for 100 years, discovered in Oklahoma school

Haunting chalkboard drawings, frozen in time for 100 years, discovered in Oklahoma school

Sherry Read Math teacher Classroom is a total mess. The students are gone for the summer, and light fixtures dangle from the ceiling.

There is a dust layer on the floor. The worker’s rackets down the corridor during the refurbishment of the school, which dates back to the 1890s. They’re working in what has become an archaeological site.

Another discovery was made earlier this month by a construction crew from Oklahoma City School.

They found old chalkboards with class lessons that were written almost a century ago, and chalk drawings still in remarkably good condition. So Read doesn’t mind the mess. In fact, she’s amazed.

“It’s like touching history, like being a part of what was going on during the day,” she says. “It’s just remarkable and mysterious, trying to figure out what some of this was.”

The “multiplication wheel” was found behind a wall at Emerson High School.

The biggest mystery is an old multiplication wheel. It’s a circle with factors on the inside and other numbers on the outside. No one can figure it out.

But there’s no mystery about when the lessons were written. It was 1917, right after Thanksgiving. There is a turkey and pilgrim theme in every room.

One picture shows a little girl feeding a turkey. She’s in a pink and white knee-length dress and stockings; bright yellow curls frame her face. The picture is intricate, so detailed it must have been drawn by a teacher’s hand.

Haunting chalkboard drawings, frozen in time for 100 years, discovered in Oklahoma school
An untouched chalkboard from 1917 was found behind a classroom wall at Emerson High School in Oklahoma City.

There’s also music and civics lessons, and rules for keeping clean. A vocabulary list highlights words like “blunder” and “choke” written in smooth cursive. Even the word “whoa” is listed because many people got around on horse and buggy back then.

Also on the board, a list of student names frozen in time.

“We’re not sure if that meant they were good students for the day, or they accomplished that,” Read says. “Or were their names up there because they were bad for the day?”

These snapshots are fragile. A simple, misplaced elbow can wipe them away. So school officials are now trying to figure out the best way to preserve these illuminating bits of the past.

Jeff Briley of the Oklahoma Historical Society says it’s important to secure the rooms by protecting chalkboards with acrylic glass and then controlling the temperature and light.

“They’re meant to be fleeting,” he says. “Chalk on a blackboard is not meant as a permanent media at all.”

He said everyone wants to preserve the blackboards, but they’re too fragile to move. So the old lessons may become part of the modern classrooms.

“If you make it secure, you make it to where there are no physical problems, you give it a stable environment, well then you’ll be good perhaps for another 100 years,” Briley says. Sherry Read says she gets a nice vibe from the chalkboards. She thinks the teachers of 1917 left the lessons for a reason.

“You would have cleaned off your board so you could be ready the next day to come back and teach,” she says. “So I think they left them on there on purpose to send a message to us, to say, ‘This is what was going on in our time.'”

Blackboard drawings are the fruit flies of art. They have short lifespans. That’s why the folks at Emerson High are scrambling. They want to preserve these snapshots from a century ago for future generations of Oklahoma students.

Tons of Giant Nephrite Jade Discovered in Canada

Tons of Giant Nephrite Jade Discovered in Canada

In many colors jade is found in black, blue, orange, brown, cream, gold, white and lavender. The different types of jade include jadeite and nephrite.

Nephrite is tougher and harder to break than jadeite material. The Polar Pride boulder was called the find of the millennium by trade experts and was discovered in Canada. The 18-ton boulder was split in half to be used for carving.

Jade was first identified in Canada by the Chinese settlers in 1886 in British Columbia, Canada. At this time jade was considered to be worthless as they were searching for gold.

Jade was not a commercialized stone in Canada until the 1970s. Commercial mining of Canadian jade began in 1972, by two Californians who started the mining business Loex James Ltd.

There are over fifty known nephrite occurrences found in British Columbia. These occurrences are located in Southern British Columbia, the Cassiar, Cry and Dease Lake, and Mount Ogden areas.

These nephrite occurrences consist of individual blocks, talus blocks, boulder fields, and in situ occurrences. Most of the nephrite in situ occurrences are lens-shaped or cigar-shaped.

Nephrite in British Columbia.

Until the 1960s, almost all of the nephrite that was produced in British Columbia came from secondary deposits. With the rapid expansion of the amateur lapidary activity after World War II, production in the jade fields of British Columbia’s picked up, and they became the most important suppliers.

Around the same time, markets opened up in the Orient and Germany. Mining activity for Nephrite gradually depleted the secondary deposits, but increasing the values of the stone led to further exploration.

These efforts uncovered primary deposits of jade adjacent to the Fraser River in southern British Columbia, the Mount Ogden area of central British Columbia and the Cassiar jade fields in the far north of the province. Today, British Columbia is the main supplier for the Chinese market of Nephrite.

Nephrite mining in the province of British Columbia is very challenging. Winters are typically long and extremely cold, and deposits of Nephrite are remote, so mining can only happen during the shorter summer season, which is only about 60 days a year.

Nephrite Mined In British Columbia Canada

Almost all of the secondary deposits of jade are exhausted, so current mining is almost always from primary deposits. Transporting the heavy equipment to the jade mining sites is backbreaking work.

Jade West uses its diamond-coated circular, wire saws and modern high-pressure hydraulic splitters to remove the nephrite boulders from the mountain and saw them into pieces of a manageable size.

Nephrite’s toughness makes it an extremely difficult stone to break out of the rock. While blasting the Nephrite had been used in the past, Jade West no longer uses explosives.

Nephrite deposits range in size from 12 inches to 12 feet wide. The wider deposits of jade are very challenging to the quarry.

Nephrite boulders on the surface can sometimes reach weights of about 200 tons and are rarely under 100 pounds, but Jade West tries to limit the overall weight of its jade Nephrite boulders to five tons, which is a good size for them to mine, handle, and then transport on trucks to the nearest town, which is about 100 miles away.

The average weight of Nephrite is two tons, a size that satisfies most of the carving factories in China.

Petrified opal tree trunk situated in Arizona it’s about 225 million years old

225 million-year-old fossilized tree trunk from the Triassic Period in The Petrified Forest National Park – Arizona

What happened to the wood that made it like this in the beautiful petrified trees in Arizona’s forests? They believe petrified wood is so old that it emerged in the prehistoric period. But do you know how petrified wood was made? This guide will show you how. What is petrified wood and how is it formed?

Fossil wood is considered to have grown when the material of the plant is buried by sediment. When wood is buried deep in the muck it is protected from decay brought about by the exposure to oxygen and organisms.

And because wood is stored in deep water, the minerals in groundwater flow through the sediment, replacing the original plant material like silica, calcite, and pyrite.

There are even very expensive minerals that can infiltrate wood-like opal. The result is a fossil made from the original woody material that often exhibits preserved details of the tree bark, wood, and cellular structures.

This is possibly the most popular petrified parks in the world. The Petrified Forest National Park near Holbrook in northeastern Arizona has formed millions of years ago. About 225 million years ago, this was simply a lowland that has a tropical climate with a dense forest.

Rivers made by tropical rainstorms washed mud and other sediments. This was where you would find giant coniferous trees 9 feet in diameter and towering 200 feet lived and died.

Fallen trees and broken branches from these trees were buried by rich river sediments. Meanwhile, volcanoes nearby erupted numerous times and the ash and silica from these eruptions buried the area.

Eruptions caused large dense clouds of ash that buried the area and this quick cover prevented anything from escaping and of course, nothing can also move in, even oxygen and insects. In time, the soluble ash was dissolved by groundwater through the sediments. The dissolved ash became the source of silica that replaced the plant debris.

This silication process creates petrified wood. Aside from silica, trace amounts of iron, manganese and other minerals also penetrated the wood and this gave petrified wood a variety of colors. This is how the lovely Chinle Formation was made.

So how was this area discovered? Millions of years after the Chinle Formation were created, the entire area was dug and the rocks found on top of Chinle have eroded away.

What was discovered was wood here was much harder and resistant to weathering compared to the mudrocks and ash deposits in Chinle. Wood that was taken from the ground surface as nearby mudrocks and ash layers washed away.

Petrified Forest National Park is another world-class tourist site in the area, straddling Interstate 10 about 70 or 80 miles east of Meteor Crater.

The park covers 146 square miles.   It’s dry and often windy, but the elevation of 5400 feet means that it’s not as hot as desert areas at lower altitudes, and it’s mostly covered in the grass rather than cacti and other desert plants.

Of course, the big attraction here is the petrified trees, which grew here about 225 million years ago when this part of Arizona was at a much lower elevation near the shores of a large sea to the west.

As well as the trees, many fossilized animals such as clams, freshwater snails, giant amphibians, crocodile-like reptiles, and early dinosaurs have been found here.

At times volcanic ash was deposited on fallen trees in the forest here, and silica in the ash was dissolved by water and entered the trees, fossilizing them.

The silica in the logs crystallized into quartz, but often iron oxide and other minerals were mixed in, producing extraordinarily beautiful kaleidoscopic patterns and colors.

The petrified trees are often so attractive that a whole industry grew up around hauling them out from where they lay and cutting them up to make decorative furniture, wall displays, bookends, and other items. Theft from the park has always been a problem, and it’s estimated that around 12 tons of fossilized wood are stolen each year.

Possible 16th-Century Spanish Anchors Found Near Mexico

Possible 16th-Century Spanish Anchors Found Near Mexico

The exact location where the anchors were found was when the Spanish Conquistador Hernan Cortes was sinking his ships in order to prevent a return to Cuba by opposing the leaders of his army.

Anchor studies have shown that their morphology places the anchors to the 16th century. Their orientation indicates that they follow patterns that could be associated with the location of the fleet of conquistador Hernan Cortes.

Villa Rica is usually rich in tourists and fishermen in the salty seawater.

One of the anchors recovered off the Velacruz coast

The coast of Veracruz, however, was around 500 years ago one of history’s main cultural gatherings, which is now being investigated, with positive results, by underwater archaeologists of the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH), who work together with foreign specialists to explore the seabed.

The researchers have found two iron anchors in their new exploratory project, the second season of the Villa Rica Subaquatic Archeology Project

Curiously, the experts have revealed that the unique characteristics of the anchors link them to the 16th century. The objects join the discover of another anchor that was found in 2018.

Laboratory studies have proven that the wood of its stock belongs to a tree of Spain’s Cantabrian coast.

The recently recovered anchors were discovered no more than 300 meters north of the location where experts in 2018 recovered the first anchor. The largest of the anchors is 3.68 meters long and 1.55 meters wide. The second anchor is 2.6 meters long and 1.43 meters wide.

Unlike the anchors recovered in 2018, the recently found objects did not converse their wooden stock.

Nonetheless, the protuberances over the rod are visible where the stock would adjust.

“In both, a pair of bumps running parallel to the arms can be seen in the cane at the height at which the stocks adjusted, a typical feature of the manufacture of anchors in the 16th century,” the researchers revealed in a statement.

“It is not clear if all three anchors belong to the same historical moment, but their alignment to the southwest coincides with the logic of Villa Rica as a port that protects ships from the north and northwest winds,” explained Roberto Junco, head of the Underwater Archeology Branch of INAH.

Despite this uncertainty, for experts, it is of great importance to know they are following an accurate route to locate shipwrecks that are linked to the arrival of Europeans to the American continent.

“The Conquest of Mexico was a seminal event in human history, and these shipwrecks, if we can find them, will be symbols of the cultural collision that led to what is now the West, geopolitical and socially speaking,” says underwater archaeologist Dr. Frederick Hanselmann.

It is important to note that the anchors are well-preserved thanks to the same sediment that had protected them for five centuries. This is why after experts completed measurements and documentations, the anchors were once again covered in the sediment to be protected in situ.

Researchers will now focus on another 15 anomalies that show potential as being anchors.

A Kiln That Fired Millions of Clay Pipes Was Unearthed Under a Montreal Bridge

A Kiln That Fired Millions of Clay Pipes Was Unearthed Under a Montreal Bridge

A bustling pipe-making district at the intersection of four Montreal neighborhoods catered to Canadians in need of a tobacco fix, during the 19th Century.

The leading Henderson pipe plant manufactured millions of pipes each year was one of the manufacturers operating in the area.

According to Max Harrold of CTV News, a key component of the factory operations was discovered by archaeologists: a “massive” kiln where Henderson clay pipes were fired before being sold to smokers.

A Kiln That Fired Millions of Clay Pipes Was Unearthed Under a Montreal Bridge
A massive pipe kiln from the Henderson factory, unearthed by archaeologists.

The team discovered the kiln beneath the Jacques Cartier Bridge, a now-iconic landmark that connects Montreal and the city of Longueuil while conducting survey work prior to the installation of a drainage system near piers on the Montreal side of the bridge.

Per a press release from Jacques Cartier and Champlain Bridges Incorporated (JCCBI), archaeologists embarked on the dig with the specific goal of locating the Henderson kiln.

Historic maps confirmed that the team’s chosen dig spot was once the site of the Henderson factory and even identified the location of a kiln spanning between 16 and 19 feet in diameter.

Hundreds of pipes have previously been found in the area, many of them stamped with the “Henderson/Montreal” label—another sign that the kiln was hiding nearby.

“We knew we’d come across it this time around,” archaeologist Christian Roy tells Jessica Leigh Hester of Atlas Obscura.

The kiln had been largely demolished, but Roy says the excavation team found chambers “through which the air would flow into the oven,” along with “other openings where they could put charcoal in to heat up the kiln.”

Archaeologists suspect the structure dates to sometime between 1847 and 1892. According to JCCBI, which spearheaded the dig, the kiln may have been rebuilt while still in operation, as “this type of equipment required regular maintenance and repairs.”

Pipes found on land near the kiln

Tobacco smoking was a fashionable habit in centuries past: To capitalize on the trend, companies in Europe and North America produced an array of pipes made from such materials as wood, porcelain, clay, and plaster.

Irish immigrants who flocked to Canada to escape the Great Famine of the 1840s may have sparked Montreal’s pipe-making craze. Prior to their arrival, the city “had little if any prior history of pipe making,” explains the late Iain Walker, a leading clay pipe researcher. “Irish immigrants were forced to make their own pipes.”

The Henderson factory was founded in 1847 by a Scotsman named William Henderson Sr. His company manufactured clay pipes engraved with delicate fruits, flowers, and other designs.

Clay tobacco pipes were fragile but cheap and are among “the most commonly-found [artifacts] on colonial and post-colonial settlements in Canada,” Walker explained in a 1970 paper.

Cigarettes, Walker added, “did not become the most popular means of taking tobacco in Great Britain and the United States until the end of the First World War.”

Henderson’s factory was a thriving business. It processed between 225 and 300 tons of clay each year, according to JCCBI, and by 1871, the company was producing some seven million pipes annually. Most of the people who worked in the factory were Scottish and Irish immigrants.

Henderson’s grandsons, known as the Dixon brothers, took over the factory in 1876. By the 1980s, reports Hester, the factory’s operations were winding down, and in the 1920s, the land was razed to make way for the new bridge.

The newly unearthed kiln will soon be reburied; exposing it to the harsh Canadian winter would result in its destruction, and the structure is too fragile to relocate. Roy tells Hester that an interpretive plaque may be added to the site in a nod to Montreal’s history as a prominent center of Canada’s pipe-making industry.