Virginia Dismal Swamp

Digging into a Phase II Investigation at Virginia’s Dismal Swamp Canal Superintendent’s/Lockkeeper’s House

May 17, 2023

Dr. Cynthia Goode, Anne O’Donnell, Samantha Lovette, and Brittany Wortman from our Chantilly, Virginia office recently conducted a Phase II investigation at the Dismal Swamp Canal Superintendent’s/Lockkeeper’s House in the City of Chesapeake, Virginia. The house dates to the 1820s and was used as a Superintendent or Lockkeeper’s residence until the Civil War. By the late 1800s, the house was repurposed and was being used by the Wallace family as a store serving canal workers. During the 1890s, the area underwent canal widening.

Our team identified stratigraphic layers and artifacts relating to these early occupation periods within a complex stratigraphic sequence that also included dredge deposits from the canal widening. During the investigation, we recovered an intact glass inkwell, handpainted and transfer-printed ceramics, blown-in-mold bottle glass, tobacco pipe stems, and architectural materials.

Check out this video of our archaeologists at work:

This project was performed for the architecture firm Hanbury, which is under contract with the City of Chesapeake. The city is creating a historical park at Wallaceton, Virginia, and The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), which owns the Superintendent’s House, will transfer ownership to the city so the house can be included as part of the park.

We’re grateful to Hanbury and the City of Chesapeake for this exciting opportunity to engage in Chesapeake’s local history!