Permission Granted! First dig

pvg_320

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From many prospects on an 1874 map of my town, I chose a now-vacant lot that shows a residence on the old map. It's in a part of town that dates back to late 1850s, but no idea on the original date of construction (and first pit).

The owner was interested and happy to let me dig whenever I wanted, and mentioned that he bulldozed an old house on the lot 30+ years ago.

The lot is next to modern railroad tracks, and has several depressions that I cannot wait to probe. Assuming we'll need to get out of the hole when a train approaches...

Since this is my first dig (all of my other finds have been surface on old farmsteads), what advice would you all offer regarding first timer mistakes? I have Digger O Dell's 'secrets' book, and have almost memorized it...but I know there is much more field knowledge to be had. Please unleash the anecdotes, re: simple mistakes that are easy to avoid.

1) How long does an average (midwestern) pit take to dig and fill in? I'll have three diggers with me, one with some experience. Soil is clay, but fairly soft this time of year.

I plan on finding the pit from probing and test hole digging the weekend before the dig, so am interested in just the excavation, extraction, and fill in time

2) We have free access to a miniature Kubota backhoe - is this more trouble than it's worth? Am I right in thinking hand shoveling is better b/c there's less chance of damaging things in the upper layers? Opinions please on this - would hate to destroy any of the glass.


Will update the board as this progresses.

Thanks much-
PVG
 

BottleDawg

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well haveing dug by "active" railroad tracks before (for work) i know the railroad owns a easement or so many feet on each side of the tracks . it might be a good idea to check into that. they tend to get upset when you dig near their tracks.
im in colorado an i would think, but not forsure its the same everywhere with the railroad.
an i would have to go with jeff on the backhoe idea, i would use it only to scratch the surface, not much more. ( if it was on site i might use it to backfill )

good luck an happy digging, an by all means show us what you find.
 

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