We returned to Roundrock last weekend for an overnight; that’s two weekends in a row that we were there. The trip was supposed to be merely for relaxation, but, of course, I found myself pulled toward a couple of chores that needed doing.
One was to do more filling work of the hole that was developing on the south spillway. I had devoted an hour to throwing rocks in that hole last weekend, and I thought another hour or two just might fill it, and maybe I’d avoid having the berm on the spillway being completely washed out.
I didn’t need to worry about filling that hole. In the week since I’d been down, a couple of big rains had gouged even bigger holes that were even greater threats to the integrity of the spillway berm.
The mess you see above is the south spillway, a week later. It’s hard to tell, but some of the holes on that left side are three feet deep. That exposed area is where the rushing water had eaten into the berm. Another overflow event and I expect the berm will blow out, allowing the rushing water to pour into the
pine pecan plantation far too close to the dam for my comfort. (That spread of gravel at the bottom of the spillway has been washed there in the last two years. It used to be grassy there.)
So I ventured over to the spillway on Saturday soon after we arrived and saw the impossible task before me. I could spend the rest of my life throwing rocks in that forming canyon, and another big rain event would simply wash them down the hill. I grew despairing and figured I had to call the dozer man to come out with his big machinery to tackle the problem.
On Sunday I thought about a different approach. About halfway down the spillway, the water tends to stay on the right side (far from the berm), kept in place by a crack in the bedrock there that forms a natural channel. At the halfway point, the bedrock is no longer cracked and the water spills out, crossing the spillway and gouging out a new channel in the gravel and dirt. My thought was that if I could create a new channel in the gravel and dirt on the right side of the spillway, the water would be steered away from the berm a little longer.
So Flike and I headed over there with the pickaxe and shovel. (I carried those. Flike carried a stick.) Then I did a little work at the top of the spillway to remove some gravel so that the water would more easily flow into the natural channel formed by the split in the bedrock. That didn’t take long (and probably didn’t make much of a difference), and I headed down to the halfway point where the natural channel ends and the dirt and gravel begin. And I couldn’t bring myself to dig.
What I really need to do is fill the hole, not create a new one. An ideal spillway would be covered with a carpet of grass to help prevent erosion, and that’s what I have at the point where I was going to start digging. (As you can see on the right side of the photo above.) The water is getting diverted here, but that’s not the fault of the grass. And it seemed foolish to destroy part of the spillway that was actually the way it needed to be.
So I threw rocks in the holes again, aware of how futile that was. And for a break, I used the pickaxe to dig a little in the channel in the bedrock, to widen it where I could and allow it to carry more water.
And that’s when it happened.
Something I’ve been wanting to happen for more than a dozen years.
Something I’ve been hoping for since I first started stomping about my Ozark forest.
Something I was beginning to despair would ever happen in my life.
. . .
I found a Native American artifact!
Look at that beauty!
Here’s the other side:
I have no idea what it is. Obviously it’s too large to have fit on an arrow. Perhaps it’s a spearhead? Or maybe a knife blade. Nor do I know who made it or how old it might be. (I’ve been told that the larger they are, the older they are, but a given use could determine size as much as age, I think.)
The bottom is broken off, as you can see, and that might have shed more light on its original use or craftsmanship. It’s made of chert (I think) and it’s symmetrical in width and depth. Plus there is clear evidence of knapping on its edges.
This had washed into the spillway sometime in the last two years and was buried in mud. (This part of the spillway was broken out of the bedrock, so the artifact couldn’t have gotten there before then.)
Suddenly my woes with the spillway seemed unimportant. I washed the artifact in the water that was trickling down the spillway and examined it from all angles. It wasn’t giving up any of its secrets though.
It sits beside me on my desk. I pick it up frequently and look it over. Now, of course, I expect to go out to my woods and find artifacts all the time. I’ll let you know how that goes.