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Students Dig into Poconos Past

BUCK TOWNSHIP — Students from Kutztown University are in the Poconos literally digging up the past. It’s an anthropology class uncovering remains of...
luz dig

BUCK TOWNSHIP -- Students from Kutztown University are in the Poconos literally digging up the past.

It's an anthropology class uncovering remains of a village abandoned more than a century ago.

The work is certainly pretty dirty, and can be tedious too, but Kutztown University anthropology students have spent weeks in some pits near Blakeslee uncovering the past.

Out of those holes came all kinds of artifacts from 200 years ago.

"We do dances. We do happy dances a lot!" said Danielle Cannon of Albrightsville, describing how the students react when they find buried artifacts.

"We were at the point where we were pulling out an artifact a minute, I would say," said Sara Wingert of Lehighton.

The students have been at work for about a month at the site of the former village of Stoddartsville, just off Route 115, a community designed to connect coal transport with the Lehigh River.

That village was leveled by a forest fire 160 years ago.

The artifacts discovered may not seem like much but they are important in the study of life here in the early 1800s.

"They get to try to understand from those artifacts the stories behind them: how did they get there, what did they mean about the area's history and the people who lived here," anthropology professor Khori Newlander.

Some of the students doing the exploring are from the Poconos.

"This to me is awesome," said Elizabeth Stanton of Gouldsboro.  "I didn't even know this existed and I live a half hour up the road.

It's hard to picture a whole village of about 40 buildings in the spot along the Lehigh River. For the students excavating and finding those pieces of the past, they like to picture the people living their lives there.

"I love to get a flash into that -- people working in the store, buying stuff here, living in homes down by the mill, working in the mill. I love getting the snapshot into the history of that."

In 1815, this mill was the biggest capital investment in Luzerne County history, now it's just part of a much bigger history lesson.

The owners of the land where the old village stood have invited Kutztown University to come and explore the past two years and the school hopes to be back again next year.