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Celebrate New Archeological National Historic Landmarks

Three new National Historic Landmarks – Miami Circle, New Philadelphia, and Ludlow Tent Colony – were recently designated. The NPS National Historic Landmark (NHL) program recognizes places throughout the United States for their exceptional value or quality in telling the story of America. Sites designated as NHLs are automatically listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Archeological NHLs are designated for providing significant new knowledge about the past or the potential to provide information. Oftentimes this information cannot be known any other way except through archeology, as the three new NHLs attest.

Miami Circle, Miami, Florida

Miami Circle gives up its secrets.

The “Miami Circle” consists of 24 holes or basins cut into the soft oolitic limestone bedrock on a coastal spit of land. The circle of holes is surrounded by many “minor” holes. It is believed to be somewhere between 1700 and 2000 years old, meaning that it predates other known permanent settlements on the East Coast. The circle is the only known evidence of a prehistoric permanent structure cut into the bedrock in the United States. Artifacts such as shell tools, stone axe heads, shark teeth, and other items point to the Tequesta Indians having built the structure. Other artifacts included human teeth and charcoal from fires. The site contains early and late components of the primary village of the Tequesta people, who were one of the first Native North American groups encountered by Juan Ponce de Leon in 1513.

The site’s significance lies in well-preserved evidence of American Indian architecture, considerable materials related to patterns of regional and long-distance exchange, elements of ceremonialism involving animal interments, and association with the Tequesta people.

Learn more:
Miami Circle Nomination (pdf)
Miami Circle Site, Florida Division of Historical Resources

New Philadelphia, near Barry, Illinois

Archeologists uncover the past at New Philadelphia.

New Philadelphia was founded in 1836. It is the first known town platted and officially registered by an African American before the American Civil War. Frank McWorter, a freedman, subdivided 42 acres of land into lots. He applied the proceeds of land sales to purchase freedom for enslaved family members. McWorter purchased his own freedom and that of his wife, four children, and three grandchildren by the time of his death in 1854. New Philadelphia was predominantly inhabited by whites, but the concentration of black and mulatto residents relative to the overall population of Illinois gave it a reputation as a black town. Construction of the railroad a mile away in the 1830s eventually brought the end of New Philadelphia in the early twentieth century.

The New Philadelphia Town Site holds high potential to yield information of major scientific importance to understanding the economic and social relationships of free, multi-racial rural communities of the nineteenth century. New Philadelphia can provide nationally significant information about formerly enslaved individuals and subsequent free born generations who struggled for autonomy and economic freedom.

Learn more:
The Center for Heritage Resource Studies' New Philadelphia website
Historical Landscapes of New Philadelphia, Illinois
The New Philadelphia Historic Preservation Foundation
New Philadelphia, Teaching With Historic Places

Ludlow Tent Colony, Ludlow, Colorado

Striker family at the Ludlow tent colony.

In 1913, miners began a strike after walking out of the coal mines at Ludlow. They demanded adequate wages, enforcement of state mining laws, and union recognition. The coal companies evicted the miners from company housing, so the miners and their families moved into tent colonies set up by the United Mine Workers of America. On April 20, 1914, the Colorado militia and thugs hired by coal companies attacked an encampment of striking miners. Twenty-five people were killed by the end of the day, including fourteen women and children. The violent attack ended the first tent colony. Most of the colonists’ personal belongings were left behind after they fled. Archeologists found the locations of tents, cellars, and personal belongings. Archeologists also recovered bullets that provide information on the battle itself, such as expended bullets directed into the tent colony.

Research at Ludlow Tent Colony research holds potential for addressing questions of national importance and appropriate to unionism, ethnicity, country of origin, and the general living conditions experienced by strikers and their family members throughout the country during the first third of the 20th century.

Learn more:
Ludlow Tent Colony Site Nomination (pdf)
Colorado Coal Field War Project, Colorado Digitization Project