TRAIL NEWS:
  • Trails are clear, but muddy in places. Big Creek is full of sucker, Canada buffaloberry is in bloom, and in the evenings, woodcocks are dancing at the Astronomy Campus.

Looking Ahead: A Decade of Digging

Sevastapol Students participating in the dig.

If you are picturing “Indiana Jones,” or long to help reveal mosaics at Pompeii, or enter secret crypts below cathedrals, the Archaeological Dig at Crossroads’ Cove Estuary Preserve may not be “the dig” on your bucket list. But if you have always dreamed of working side-by-side with professional archaeologists to assist in discovering a significant aspect of Door County history, you are invited to be a part of the 2023 Crossroads Fall Archaeological Experience.

Learning to Dig and Digging to Learn

The 2023 Fall Dig will run from September 25 through October 5, and this year, weather permitting, we expect to have a team of four to five archaeologists and field technicians on site each weekday.

Anytime you see activity going on at The Cove Estuary or Hanson Homestead, feel free to stop and watch, ask questions and, if you would like, even take part in the dig. No admission fee is charged (though we never refuse donations) and no reservations are required. We ask visitors to park in The Cove Estuary Preserve lot, 817 South 20th Place.

If school groups are present, learners of all ages are welcome to watch, but the archaeologists will be too involved in educational outreach to interact with adults. Educational outreach was the original objective of this program.

A Decade of Educational Digs

What started as a demonstration for a second-grade class field trip about a dozen years ago has grown into a significant archaeological investigation—a true crossroads of the humanities, science, and environmental history.

A collaboration between Midwest Archaeological Consultants and Crossroads offered a field trip opportunity designed to give middle school students hands-on experience in skills such as developing research questions, recording data, reading (and creating) maps, and comparing and contrasting objects. Now surpassing several thousand participants, The Dig at Crossroads has grown to be a cherished tradition – a rite of passage for Door County students.

Over the decade, under the direction of Randy Dickson of Midwest Archaeological Consultants, students from TJ Walker Middle School, Sunrise, Sevastopol, Southern Door, Washington Island, and St. Peter’s schools and homeschoolers have participated in shovel-test surveys, dug and sorted through soil in a test unit, watched demonstrations on flintknapping, and participated in experimental archaeology activities such as throwing an atlatl spear.

The tradition evolved further during the COVID years. During the days of social-distancing, Dr. Robert Jeske, who was at the cusp of retirement as Chair of the Department of Anthropology for the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, began working at the Crossroads Dig and, by popular demand, we expanded the program to include families and interested adults.

Since that time, Dr. Bob has lured many of his colleagues from the Archaeological Research Lab at UW-Milwaukee to the project. They now volunteer their time  and expertise  to dig and offer outreach at The Cove Estuary Preserve.

If you see folks near the Estuary, stop and learn. And across Utah Street, if the red door of the Hans and Bertha Hanson House is open, drop by for a visit. Free tours will be offered from 2:30-4:30 p.m. daily from September 26 through October 8.

Unearthing Other Crossroads Opportunities

In recognition of International Astronomy Day, the Door Peninsula Astronomical Society (DPAS) is adding another Viewing Night to the calendar. The event will begin at 7:30 PM on Saturday, September 23, at the Stonecipher Astronomy Center, 2023 Utah Street in Sturgeon Bay.

On Tuesday, September 26, The Wild Ones of the Door Peninsula will hold their monthly meeting at 6:30 p.m. Wild Ones, the Master Gardeners of the Door Peninsula and Crossroads are co-sponsoring the free public lecture, “Taming Your WILD Flower Garden.” There are countless benefits to landscaping with native plants, but even desirable plants (we’re looking at you, Milkweed!) can go rogue. Using the Crossroads Bird and Butterfly Garden as an example, Jason Miller of Silver Creek Ecological Services will explain how to restore a native plant garden. He will also discuss the City of Sturgeon Bay’s new regulations on native landscapes within the city limits.

Crossroads’ 3rd Annual Bread Pudding Night will be held Wednesday, September 27. The evening will begin at 4:30 p.m. with a short hike from the main trailhead at the Collins Learning Center to the Astronomy Campus. The 20-minute hike will highlight restoration efforts of the past year and the new field station project. Participants will be greeted at hike’s end with a roaring bonfire, hot apple cider, mulled wine and Bridge Up beer. Boxed dinners will include savory bread pudding, an autumn salad and Door County Apple Crisp—all made, as much as possible, with local and organic ingredients! A luminary-lit walk will guide participants back to the parking lot. Please visit the Bread Pudding Night Event Page for costs and reservation information.

As always, our trails are open all day every day, free of charge. Check the Crossroads website calendar for details.


Upcoming Activities

Thursday, September 21

8:30 a.m. Pollinator Pals

If you like to garden and are interested in giving our native pollinators a helping hand, Crossroads at Big Creek could use your help! Volunteers are “editing” unwanted plants which will be replaced by native species. We provide the equipment. Meet at the Collins Learning Center.


Friday, September 22

2:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. Tours of the Hanson House

Enjoy a free tour of the Hans and Bertha Hanson House to learn about life in the 1880s. Hands-on activities for kids. No reservations needed. The Hanson House is located at 2200 Utah Street, Sturgeon Bay. Please park across Utah Street in The Cove Preserve parking area so as not to damage construction materials, impede progress or detract from the historical character of the area.


Saturday, September 23 

9:00 a.m. Habitat Healers

Help heal the earth! Volunteers of all ages are invited to help with our land restoration efforts. Wear clothing and footgear that can get dirty and wet and bring a water bottle. Instruction, equipment, and gloves are provided along with cookies and lemonade at the end! No need to register in advance and all ages are welcome. Meet at the Workshop.


2:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. Tours of the Hanson House

Enjoy a free tour of the Hans and Bertha Hanson House to learn about life in the 1880s. Hands-on activities for kids. No reservations needed. The Hanson House is located at 2200 Utah Street, Sturgeon Bay. Please park across Utah Street in The Cove Preserve parking area so as not to damage construction materials, impede progress or detract from the historical character of the area.


7:30 p.m. DPAS International Astronomy

Join the members of the Door Peninsula Astronomical Society at the  Stonecipher Astronomy Center and Leif Everson Observatory to explore the beauty of the night sky with DPAS members as you guides. Free and open to the public. Meet at the Astronomy Campus, 2023 Utah Street in Sturgeon Bay.


Sunday, September 24

2:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. Tours of the Hanson House

Enjoy a free tour of the Hans and Bertha Hanson House to learn about life in the 1880s. Hands-on activities for kids. No reservations needed. The Hanson House is located at 2200 Utah Street, Sturgeon Bay. Please park across Utah Street in The Cove Preserve parking area so as not to damage construction materials, impede progress or detract from the historical character of the area.


Tuesday, September 26

2:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. Tours of the Hanson House

Enjoy a free tour of the Hans and Bertha Hanson House to learn about life in the 1880s. Hands-on activities for kids. No reservations needed. The Hanson House is located at 2200 Utah Street, Sturgeon Bay. Please park across Utah Street in The Cove Preserve parking area so as not to damage construction materials, impede progress or detract from the historical character of the area.


5:30 p.m. Family Pumpkin Carving Night

Help us carve pumpkins for our 3rd Annual Bread Pudding Night fundraiser. Pumpkins will be provided (while supplies last) or feel free to bring your own and join in the carving fun. We’ll use each pumpkin for decoration on September 27 then you can pick up your pumpkin and take it home on September 28! Please RSVP to save a pumpkin


6:30 p.m. Wild Ones Monthly Meeting: “Taming Your WILD Flower Garden”

Enjoy a free tour of the Hans and Bertha Hanson House to learn about life in the 1880s. Hands-on activities for kids. No reservations needed. The Hanson House is located at 2200 Utah Street, Sturgeon Bay. Please park across Utah Street in The Cove Preserve parking area so as not to damage construction materials, impede progress or detract from the historical character of the area.


Wednesday, September 27

2:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. Tours of the Hanson House

Enjoy a free tour of the Hans and Bertha Hanson House to learn about life in the 1880s. Hands-on activities for kids. No reservations needed. The Hanson House is located at 2200 Utah Street, Sturgeon Bay. Please park across Utah Street in The Cove Preserve parking area so as not to damage construction materials, impede progress or detract from the historical character of the area.


4:30 p.m. 3rd Annual Bread Pudding Night

Join us for savory bread pudding, sweet apple crisp, and delightful entertainment. Our evening will begin with a short hike from the main trailhead at the Collins Learning Center to the Astronomy Campus. The 20-minute hike will highlight restoration efforts of the past year and our new field station project. We’ll be greeted at hike’s end with a roaring bonfire, hot apple cider, mulled wine and Bridge Up beer. All proceeds go to our ongoing restoration efforts.

Leave a Comment