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Protecting North America's Oldest Structures

Wednesday, October 23, 2013


Wyoming Oldest StructureGUNNISON, COLORADO—The Mountaineer Site, on the summit of western Colorado's Tenderfoot Mountain, is home to some of the oldest structures in North America. Dating back 10,000 years to what archaeologists refer as the Folsom Period, the eight Paleoindian dwellings uncovered here are the only ones of their kind ever discovered. But the mountain is also important to telecommunications companies, which over the years have installed transmission towers at the site and inadvertantly harmed archaeological deposits. Now government agencies, telecommunications companies, and archaeologists have worked out a plan to protect the site, which is critical to scholars' understanding of the Folsom period, from further development. “Sites like this need to be protected and they’re not always well understood,” Carr says.  “There’s so much more to learn, only a fraction of it is excavated.