TMPA Archaeology Exhibit

adapted from an article by Meg Cruse

In July 2002, the Texas Municipal Power Agency (TMPA) assembled a historical exhibit of materials found at Gibbons Creek. It opened this display to the public at the agency’s headquarters in Carlos.

This exhibit was created to document artifacts collected at more than 200 archaeological sites identified within the boundaries of the mine by the Texas firm, Espey, Huston and Associates, Inc. (now PBS&J) of Austin. The firm was brought to the mine before mining activities to conduct environmental and archaeological investigations to determine what impacts the mine would have on the area’s environmental and cultural resources.

These artifacts represent years of habitation of Texas residents. Stone and metal tools, pottery, plant seeds, and dated glass were among many sites’ items. Each object, accompanied by the surroundings in which it was found, built stories for the archeologists. The stories are shared with the public at the exhibit through narrative boards and display cases. The exhibit is a wonderful interactive display that not only provides a video presentation but will be able to maintain its beauty through the use of UV screens, filtered indoor lights, and a security system.

The exhibit’s oldest artifacts are from the Paleo-Indian period (about 10,000 BC to 7000 BC), making them older than the pyramids in Egypt. A unique find for this time frame was a spear tip called a Pelican point, which is not a common artifact in this part of the state. Dalton points were also found. Common in northeast Texas, these spear points would have been used to hunt large game animals that are now extinct, such as the mammoth elephant and giant bison. Other artifacts in the Paleo-Indian exhibit are stone tools for scraping hides and wood or bone working. These items suggest that early settlers were hunters who may have followed the migrations of large game animals.

The next period, the Archaic period, which ranged from 7000 BC to AD 100, produced many more artifacts. The most interesting addition to these artifacts were tools for grinding and tools for cutting and woodworking. Some stone tools were clearly used for milling, drilling, and punching holes. These types of tools have been found much more commonly in East Texas. Charred rocks were also found indicating where food was once cooked.

The third period documented in the exhibit is the Late Prehistoric period that runs from AD 100 to when the first Europeans inhabited Texas. It is clear that this is the time frame in which bows and arrows were utilized, and pottery was created for everyday use. Timber is also on display from the historical Peters Cabin. Charles Peters was one of the first Texas pioneers. Germany-born, Peters came to America during his childhood, and after growing up in the South, fought in the Civil War as a Confederate Soldier. Later, Peters settled on the Texas frontier, with no concern or fear of the Indians that shared the land. Even though it is said that many settlers had many different experiences with the local Indians, Peters and the Indians co-existed peacefully without incident.

The exhibit’s final contents document recent historical artifacts from a much more recent time period–those of our grandparents and great grandparents. Farm implements, glass bottles, children’s toys, and other American nostalgia pieces are included in the exhibit to preserve a time not so long ago.

The items collected at the Gibbons Creek location create a snapshot that documents the vast range of this land’s historical journey. As it has been TMPA’s honor to be a part of this history, it is an honor to share this history with the people of Texas.