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LEGACY NUGGET: Archaeological site of teh Bisterfeldt cellar site
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LEGACY NUGGET: Archaeological site of teh Bisterfeldt cellar site

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Gretchen Deter from the North Platte Valley Museum wrote an interesting paper located in our archives about this site. She described the tremendous pressure farmers like the Bisterfeldts faced during the Great Depression in 1932. They desperately needed a cellar to preserve their crops against ravishing dust storms, incessant winds that blew away crops and scorching heat during the summer.

Winters were far from a reprieve from the Panhandle’s grueling weather. According to Deter, the Bisterfeldts decided to construct their potato cellar on a low hill with a slight depression to offer protection from erosion. They had no idea that their ideal spot would lead to a great archaeological find that would unearth clues to the ancient past.

The Bisterfeldts were only 2 1/2 feet in when they discovered human skeletal remains. After they made their discovery public, looting for treasures buried with the remains began. An archaeologist by the name of Mr. Moore got word of the site and was able to recover two intact skulls that he sent to the University of Denver for examination. Radiocarbon dating revealed that the skulls were approximately 1,500 years old.

The United States Department of the Interior National Park Service stated that 32 adults and five infants were found at the site. It can be presumed that, with a band this size, the age of the remains and the location, they had discovered Woodland Plains Indian hunter-gatherers.

This site has shared the same fate as other prehistoric Woodland Plains Indian archaeological sites and was not preserved; however, Mr. Moore had protected evidence that show consistencies of natural mound cultures. We do not know for certain that these ancient people had the same awareness of the protective properties of this type of location as the Bisterfeldts had, but their common use of similar burial sites can certainly make one wonder.

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