By Jeff Durst, THC Regional Archeologist
A Historic Texas Lands Plaque was presented on Tuesday, September 16 for the Smoky Creek Site in Refugio County. The plaque was presented to Dallas Ford, son-in-law of Betty Jo Landgraf, the property owner of the site. I made the presentation along with five members of the THC’s Texas Archeological Stewardship Network (TASN) who helped map the archeological site and define its boundaries for designation as a State Antiquities Landmark: Jimmy Bluhm, Bill Birmingham, Pat Braun, Ben McReynolds, and Nelson Marek. Bluhm, who grew up in the area, first discovered the site in 1954 after an oil pipeline crossed the creek and displaced some of the buried archeological deposits, which include traces of Late Archaic to Late Prehistoric (circa 1500 B.C. to A.D. 1700) occupations.
A great deal of archeological preservation efforts across the state goes unnoticed. Many property owners go to exhaustive measures to protect the known cultural resources on their property, often standing as the only barrier between preservation and destruction, and yet their efforts are seldom recognized by the public. In an effort to recognize individual landowners for stellar conservation ethics in the realm of archeological preservation within the state of Texas, the THC—thanks to a generous donation from the Robert E. and Evelyn McKee Foundation of El Paso—administers the Historic Texas Lands Plaque program. The plaque is 12 inches in diameter and is constructed of heavy grade cast aluminum with an anodized black finish designed to withstand the harsh Texas elements over time.
The Historic Texas Lands Plaque can be awarded to a landowner who has completed at least one of the following prerequisites:
- Transferred ownership (via donation or sale) of an archeological site to the THC, another state agency, or a suitable nonprofit organization such as a land trust. The transfer must have been for the purpose of permanent preservation of a site.
- Sold or donated a permanent conservation easement (i.e., not a term easement) to the THC, another state agency, or a nonprofit land trust. This easement must provide for permanent conservation of one or more significant archeological sites.
- Designated one or more State Antiquities Landmarks by completing the following steps: nomination, receiving the designation, and filing it with the appropriate county office.
- Allowed substantial and significant archeological research on his or her property. "Substantial and significant archeological research" means survey, testing, or major excavation by responsible and qualified professional or avocational archeologists. The research must contribute significantly to our knowledge of Texas archeology or directly lead to permanent preservation of one or more significant sites. The results of that research must be published, or all materials resulting from that research—including all artifacts, notes, records, etc.—must be curated at an approved state repository.
Individuals interested in learning more about how to protect archeological resources on their property should contact our Archeology Division at 512.463.6096 to reach the regional archeologist responsible for their county.