Check out the third Public Archaeology Twitter Conference at #PATC3. Below is a transcript of my contribution.
Public Archaeology Twitter Conference #PATC3
Garden Hill, Newfoundland and Labrador
Aircraft Wreckage, Site Use, and Local Museums
by Dr. Lisa M. Daly, PhD
#PATC3 #PATC #aviation #archaeology
Slide 2 – Aviation History in Newfoundland and Labrador
Many NL communities have stories of aircraft overhead, famous aviators, missing flights, and plane crashes. Some communities were created or shaped by aviation and the building of aerodromes in the Second World War #PATC3
Slide 3 – The Crash of USAAF 42-107427
USAAF C-54A 42-107427 crashed on the Port-au-Port Peninsula en route to Harmon Field, when sloppy weather blew it off course. 9 or 18 crew died on site, 3 later in hospital. Survivors walked to a nearby town where locals helped them. #PATC3 https://bit.ly/2Sck2ui
Slide 4 – Documentary & Archaeological Record
The site has been disturbed, the archaeological record is fragmented. The accident report is available & is a mix of technical language and witness statements. One newspaper article from 1944 rightfully worried about damage if a highway is built nearby #PATC3
Slide 5 – Public Presentation
At a presentation at the Stephenville #museum, I shared the info I had (arch and report), while the community shared related stories. The @western_star carried an article “archaeologist researching […] through local responders” #PATC3
Slide 6 – Public Engagement
This engagement allowed me to hear the story of the museum’s propeller. It was recovered from the wreck and the tip removed to make spinning wheel spindle. It stayed in the craftman’s yard until the museum opened and a resident offered to collect it #PATC3
Slide 7 – Personal Touches
Witness statements tell how the crash was experienced “there was no confusion among the passengers” “I could hear the trees cracking” “the plane made a jerk like it hit an air pocket or something” “whether I walked through or was thrown though, I don’t know” #PATC3
Slide 8 – Map vs. Aerial Photo
Hand-drawn maps show what the author considered important to relate but do not capture the chaos and confusion seen in aerial site photos that show the actual wreckage. Personal, but at the same time, controlled. #PATC3
Slide 9 – Site Use
Since the crash, besides the propeller, the site was rarely visited. With the construction of a nearby road, the aircraft material has been mostly removed, a sign directs people to the site, a bench, campfires and decoratively arranged ceramics show site use #PATC3
Slide 9 – Multidisciplinary
Combining all these elements gives a more complete story and makes it easier for people to engage and relate to the story, especially family and community members. Information is more accessible, less sterile, more personal. #PATC3
Slide 10 – Bias
This approach helps address bias, even your own. Sharing many elements of the story encourages others to share, and all the information can be critically assessed. Being open to new information encourages others to contribute, especially the public #PATC3
Slide 12 – Newfoundlanders as Storytellers
Newfoundlanders & Labradoreans love to hear & tell stories. Combining the archaeological, documentary, & folkloric elements to create the story of the site makes information accessible to interested parties & encourages others to share their part of the story #PATC3
Site Specific References
Barnes, George E., Barnie B. McEntire, and Robert H. Augustinus
1944 U.S. Army Forces Report of Aircraft Accident: Vicinity Cape St. George, Newfoundland. War Department: Harmon Field, Newfoundland.
2015 Aviation Archaeology of World War II Gander: An Examination of Military and Civilian Life at the Newfoundland Airport. Doctoral thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland: Newfoundland.
Daly, L. and S. Green
2014 Garden Hill: The Crash of a USAAF C-54. Provincial Archaeology Office 2013 Archaeology Review, 12: 22-24.
1994 Association Wants 1944 Crash Site Preserved. The Western Star, 21 September 1994, p. 3.
2013 Archaeologist Researching Crash Hill Through Local Responders. The Western Star, 09 August 2013 (online).