Vermont's oldest campground

Jamaica State Park may be the oldest campground in Vermont-literally. It's a campground that has been hosting Vermonters for more than 6,000 years.

While digging test pits for a new waste water system in the state park last month, workers accidentally dredged up 70-80 ancient artifacts near the park's popular Salmon Hole site.

After a state archeologist examined the stone tools, work on the waste water project was halted. A full blown archaeological dig occured at the park in the summer.

"The University of Vermont Consulting Archaeology Program is excavating portions of a Native American campsite on weekdays through Aug. 20," according to Rochelle Skinner, parks manager. "This work represents the first systematic excavation of this well know, but poorly understood site, and is being carried out in advance of much needed park facility upgrades."

Jamaica State Park, comprising 772 acres, was first opened to the public in 1969. Pre-park visitors to the site reported finding artifacts over the years, but nothing as significant as last month's discovery was ever made public.

Similar paleo-Indian artifacts were found in Rutland Town near Post Road earlier this summer, across from Thomas Dairy. The 16 arrowheads unearthed were dated between 7,000 and 5,000 B.C. and probably aren't as old as the state park artifacts. The Rutland County artifacts were uncovered during a routine Vermont Division for Historic Preservation dig in preparation for a future development site.

"Beneath Jamaica State Park lie the remains of numerous ancient Native American camp sites dating back at least 6,000 years," said Skinner.

Skinner said the public is encouraged to visit the dig while it is underway, ask questions, help wash newly discovered artifacts and learn about the park's Native American history.

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