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Monashee Mountain Internment Camp - Day 2: Mouldy Planks and Corn Cobs

Written by: Nikki Simon

July 21st 2021

Day 2 was set up day! Each of us grabbed a tote, shovels, sieves, and various other accoutrements, and like a line of busy little worker ants made our way across the highway and into our woodland home.

I suppose I should introduce you to the crew! Aside from Sarah, our illustrious leader, we have a wise gentleman named Dan who has worked with Sarah in the past, me (Nikki), Holly, Colton, Katy, Rory, Keagan and Chantelle. Right, now that's done, let's carry on =)

We set up base camp around the first of the two rectangular depressions rediscovered the day before. We laid down the tarp, set up our hanging sifter on its frame, and started racking away the sticks, needles and general detritus characteristic of a forest floor. Almost immediately, Colton spotted a small piece of wood with a nail sticking out of it, about a foot and a half from the wall of the depression. Noticing a lump beside it, I started pulling back the top mat of dirt and there before us lay a plank. I pull back a little more, and there is what appears to be a second plank; I yell to Sarah, "could there be a wooden floor!?" Sarah replies, "it's possible!" and by the end of the day, we uncovered an entire floor structure. The end.

Just kidding! Well...only a little, haha. Colton and I got out our trowels and clippers and slowly uncovered plank after plank, I in what came to be the back right corner of the unit and Colton at the front right. Eventually, Keegan joined us to work on the back left, Rory on the back right and Holly in the middle, tidying up all of the planks beautifully.

As one can imagine, most of the floor planks were in an advanced state of decay, and many large roots had intruded underneath until the floor looked remarkably like a rolling wooden sea. Eventually, and primarily around the edges, we began to uncover what we are referring to as tar paper, adhered to the planks. In the two back corners of the unit and across the front, the tar paper became much more prevalent and nearly a centimeter thick in some areas. At the front of the unit, it also appeared as though the tar paper was placed not only above the floor planks but below - perhaps accounting for the thickness of paper as most boards were utterly rotted away in this area.

Structurally, the floor planks were organized in what was, to my eyes, a somewhat unusual manner. What we had uncovered by the end of the day are three vertically laid boards ending at a leftmost floor joist where the floorboards then abruptly switch orientation, so they are laying horizontally instead. They carried horizontally across a center floor joist and through to a right floor joist, and, though we did not get to uncover more, the planks then appear to switch from horizontal back to vertical for an additional three planks. A little weird, right?

Aside from the (many) nails, predictably, not a whole lot came out of this unit aside from one very strange find, what appeared to us to be the base of a lightbulb! Odd considering electricity wasn't common in this area until the 60s, perhaps the military being the military had electricity up here anyway. Maybe it isn't from a bulb at all, but something like a fuse or battery. Consider the picture here; there's that odd little receptor attached to the bottom, and the bit that looks like broken black glass? Well, it is broken glass, but a deep, deep red. What do YOU think this could be? Any ideas?

Now, while we were working away on this, Chantelle and Katy initially acted as the sifters for our revolving door of dirt buckets. However, after our much-needed lunch break, they too were given an area to work in, and Dan took over as our sifting aficionado. Chantelle and Katy were tasked with excavating around the pipe for the flag pole while Sarah began a small test pit in the depression nearby. Several fun objects were uncovered between these two units, including a hack-saw blade, the neck of a bottle, and, best of all, dozens of pieces from a single ceramic vessel decorated in a corn motif! Can you imagine mist rolling across the dewy ground as dawn breaks, an army captain standing by the flagpole, corn mug in hand? It's a beautiful picture.

All in all, it was another amazingly successful day. We wrote all our notes, tagged all of our artifact baggies, tarped off our delicate floor and trooped out of our site, headed back to our cabin to enjoy a delicious meatloaf dinner and the deep rest that can only come after a satisfying day of hard work.


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