Excavation of the East Wing of the Shelton Hotel
Delta County, Michigan
At the conclusion of the 2001 summer field season, archaeologists
descended on the ghost town of Fayette, Michigan. During the third quarter
of the nineteenth century, Fayette was a leading producer of pig iron
in the Mid-West. Operating from 1867 until 1891, this company town supported
the Shelton Hotel. Serving as a boarding house, resort, hotel, and saloon,
the Shelton Hotel played a large role in the social environment of the
town. In particular, the excavations in 2001 focused on the saloon in
the east wing of the building.
Following the excavation of three 1 x 2 meter interior
units and one 1 x 2 meter exterior unit of the hotel's saloon, analysis
of the assemblage (5,647 artifacts) reflected a variety of functions.
This, in combination with the lack of stratigraphy and ubiquitous dolomite
rock fill (from the beach behind the building), led to the conclusion
that in its later years the area beneath the saloon was used as an informal
dump. On the other hand, the exterior unit placed adjacent to the building
revealed the activities common to a saloon. Excavation of this unit produced
more artifacts than the previous three units combined. These artifacts
include ceramics, glassware including wine and shot glasses, buttons,
tobacco pipes, and bone, among other things.
Unfortunately, the interior units do not reflect appropriate
patterns of behavior and the artifacts can only presumably be attributed
to hotel fill. However, the exterior unit does provide valuable information
on the activities and functions of the saloon, and the atmosphere provided
the archaeologists with sun and blue skies.
Department of Social Sciences,
Michigan Technological University Houghton, MI
Email | Phone: (906) 487-2113
| Fax: (906) 487-2468