Archaeology and understanding the past are always important parts of any U.S. Army Corps of Engineers project, whether it’s something small or it’s a project as massive as flood risk management project the Corps is undertaking in the Green Brook Sub-Basin in New Jersey.
In that spirit, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has released a publication highlighting the history of the Bound Brook area where the flood risk reduction work is ongoing and ranges from building floodwalls, levees, gates and pump stations to raising bridges. The book is entitled “Where the Green Brook Meets the Raritan.”
“We developed the publication as mitigation for the unavoidable impacts to two historic bridges, one that spanned the Green Brook and one over the Raritan River,” said supervisory Archaeologist Lynn Rakos, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New York District. “Together with the New Jersey State Historic Preservation Office we agreed that a publication for public distribution would be a way of sharing with the community the history of that area - where the Green Brook meets the Raritan.”
The history includes not only information on the impacted bridges though, but looks at the project area’s past going all the way back thousands of years to the Sacunk Native American population. This group was a subset of the Delaware, or Lenape, Indians who lived in the region prior to European settlement.
It then looks at the subsequent history of the region and notes interesting sites within it up to present day.
“Throughout the project area as a whole, which is a large area, are a number of interesting sites,” Rakos said. “In Bound Brook there was the 18th century community of Middle Brook where we got to excavate an early 19th century house site and a well that might have been associated with an 18th century stable. In the book are photos of the existing 18th century stone arch bridge which saw action in the Revolutionary War during the Battle Of Bound Brook on the 12th and 13th of April in 1777. The construction project avoided having any impact on this important historic structure.”
The booklet is written and designed to be accessible to the general public and was distributed to various sites in the region.
“Often the work that archaeologists do is written up in what we call the "grey literature" which is put on a shelf in an office and few people ever read about the work except other archaeologists,” Rakos said. “As we are doing work in a community and spending taxpayer dollars on that work we have to include an element of public outreach so that we can inform a greater audience on the history and archaeology that is sometimes quite literally in their backyards.”
The booklet is also available online HERE in both English and Spanish as the last census shows Bound Brook having a 35 percent Hispanic population.
The flood risk management work being undertaken by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in partnership with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection is ongoing with construction in the Bound Brook portion near completion. Construction work has already begun on flood mitigation elements in the neighboring Boro of Middlesex as part of the massive project that will eventually provide flood risk management benefits to several communities throughout several counties. Click here for more information on the Green Brook flood risk management work.