Animal Shelter Donations

ASC Group staff got involved in their local communities by donating dog and cat food to their local animal shelters. There has been a great need over the last year mainly because of the Covid-19 pandemic.  Also, many pet owners who lost their jobs depend on shelter pantries for pet food.

The ASC Ohio staff contributed 200 lbs. of dog and cat food to the Franklin County Dog Shelter in Columbus;

the Indianapolis staff donated food, cat litter and  blankets to the Humane Society for Hamilton County;

the Harrisburg, Pennsylvania staff donated food, cat litter, toys and cleaning products to the Humane Society of Harrisburg Area;

and the Florence, Kentucky staff donated food, treats and money to the SPCA-Cincinnati Chapter.











P3 Rapid Bridge Replacement Project in Pennsylvania

Services Provided:

This public-private partnership (P3) Rapid Bridge Replacement Project was awarded by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) to the consortium of Plenary Walsh Keystone Partners (PWKP). The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is taking advantage of the new P3 tool, signed into law in 2012, to address the state’s roughly 4,500 structurally deficient (SD) bridges. The project is an initiative to replace 558 aging bridges throughout Pennsylvania. Replacing the bridges will provide motorists with new, modern structures and allow PennDOT to remove them from their structurally deficient list. The bridges are primarily crossings on smaller state highways, many in rural areas, rather than interstate bridges or large river crossings.

Each of the bridges for the P3 project were assigned a unique number, JV#. ASC was responsible for completing the Section 106 process for over 300 bridges in the western half of Pennsylvania, specifically, in PennDOT Districts, 1-0, 2-0, 9-0, 10-0, 11-0, 12-0.

Installation Assessments, Wright Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio

Services Provided:

ASC/Auxano has completed hazardous materials assessments for approximately 580,000 s.f. of building, the tank farm decommissioning, and approximately 500 linear feet of steam line decommissioning at Wright Patterson Air Force Base.  ASC/Auxano conducted Asbestos Containing Materials (ACM) assessment by a specially trained and State-certified Asbestos Hazard Evaluation Specialists. ACM samples were submitted to a National Voluntary Laboratory Asbestos Program (NVLAP) accredited laboratory for analysis by polarized-light microscopy (PLM) with dispersion staining in accordance with the prescribed U.S. Environmental Protection Agency protocol for the determination of asbestos in bulk samples (Appendix A, Subpart F of EPA 40 CFR 763).

In addition to the standard National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP), supplemental evaluation assessments have been conducted to assist the base with issues it has been having during demolition/renovation of the buildings. The base is having issues with dust above the drop ceilings being contaminated with asbestos. Contractors have been adding hefty remediation costs after the project had an established budget due to the asbestos dust issues.

ASC/Auxano’s certified industrial hygienist (CIH) was tasked with determining what parameters to test for while evaluating the dust and which OSHA regulations need to be followed for worker safety. The assessment method ASC/Auxano staff employed was American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) Standard Test Method for Microvacuum Sampling, and Indirect Analysis of Dust by Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM) for Asbestos Structure Number Surface Loading [ASTM Designation: D5755-09 (Reapproved 2014)]. The assessment was successful in identifying a half a million-dollar remediation budget addition prior to the project being sent out to bid, saving the government from incurring a large change order and construction delay during the renovation of the building.

ASC/Auxano additionally conducted Lead Containing Materials (LCM) [including lead based paint], mercury lamps, pesticides, mercury containing thermostats, batteries, polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) containing equipment, Halon’s, Ozone depleting refrigerants, and fire and smoke detectors with radioactive sources assessments.

For the steam tunnel and bulk tank farm projects, ASC/Auxano staff were also confined space trained. Site safety is important, and each project has a site health and safety plan developed prior to our staff being deployed so that accidents are minimized.

Lower Fall Creek Trail Phase II Multi-Use Path, Indianapolis, Indiana

Services Provided:

ASC Group completed cultural and environmental resources tasks for the proposed Lower Fall Creek Trail, Phase II Multi-Use Path in Indianapolis, Marion County, Indiana.

The Phase Ia Archaeological Survey and records check was completed and no archaeological sites were located within the project area and no further work was recommended.

The Historic Properties Report documented the identification and evaluation efforts for properties included in the Area of Potential Effects (APE). Aboveground resources located within the project’s APE were identified and were evaluated in accordance with Section 106, National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) of 1966, as amended, and the regulations implementing Section 106 (36 CFR Part 800). As a result of the NHPA, as amended, and CFR Part 800, federal agencies are required to take into account the impact of federal undertakings upon historic properties in the area of the undertaking. Historic properties include buildings, structures, sites, objects, and/or districts that are eligible for or listed in the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP). The results of the HPR concluded that the APE contains two properties listed in the NRHP: Indianapolis Park and Boulevard System Historic District and the Flanner House Homes Historic District. The APE contains one property that is recommended eligible for listing on the NRHP: Indianapolis Water Company Canal/Indiana Central Canal.

An ESA Screening was completed and identified sixteen (16) properties located adjacent to the project area that require further evaluation under the Phase I ESA assessment.

IndyGo Purple Line Bus Transit Project, Indianapolis, Indiana

Services Provided:

ASC initially completed as a Phase Ia Archaeological survey and short report for the Purple Line project, which is a rapid transit line planned for Indianapolis by IndyGo, the metropolitan transit agency. The Phase Ia archaeological survey located no archaeological sites within the project area, which extends from downtown to Fort Benjamin Harrison, and recommended that the project be allowed to proceed.

ASC then completed a supplemental Phase Ia Archaeological Survey, which was required due to changes associated with a new multi-use path, drainage needs, and some additional right-of-way needs. This survey identified Site 12Ma1042, also called the Interurban Group Site. The site consists of three structural elements: an interurban station foundation, an interurban bridge foundation, and portions of the interurban rail bed associated with the other two features. The station foundation is located at the entrance to the St. Andrews Neighborhood, formed by three subdivisions dating from ca. 1910. The context created by the close proximity of the three structural features at the entrance of the neighborhood offer insight into the construction of the interurban infrastructure and provide a tableau for research into the growth of suburban Indianapolis, growth that was encouraged through the interurban rail system. Therefore, it was determined that the Interurban Group Site possesses those qualities of integrity and significance as defined by the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) criteria for evaluation. The site is also eligible for listing on the Indiana Register of Historic Sites and Structures (IRHSS). An assessment of effects report documented how the proposed project would impact historic resources along the proposed Purple Line route.

ASC wrote a data recovery plan, which provided research questions and a field investigation strategy for recovering significant archaeological data about the site prior to its demolition. The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) and the Indiana Division of Historic Preservation and Archaeology (IDNR-DHPA) reviewed and approved this plan. ASC has completed Phase III data recovery excavations at the Interurban Group Site. The archaeological investigation mitigated the adverse impacts the Purple Line project will have on the site. During the Phase III mitigation fieldwork, a combination of hand-excavation, mechanically-assisted trenching and 3D modeling of features was undertaken to document the site. The 3D modeling utilized a combination of drone-assisted and handheld digital photography, and the images were combined utilizing photogrammetry software. The result of the 3D modeling provides for a virtual reconstruction of the interurban station, which assists in visualizing its place in the surrounding neighborhood as it existed ca. 1910. Overall, the Phase III report contributes to the study of the history of Indianapolis, particularly its transportation system.

Welcome Marie Swartz

Please welcome Marie Swartz, full-time Technician for ASC Group, specializes in field archaeology, laboratory processing and management, and NEPA document production. She has been working on ASC Group projects on an as-need basis since 2014. Since then, she has acquired field experience spanning from the Mid Atlantic to Southwestern United States as well as material preservation at Ohio University Libraries. An avid volunteer, she has served under various capacities for state and local historical societies.

Four Legged Crew Member Added to Survey

Our Phase III prehistoric site excavation in southwest Ohio had a visitor this weekend. ASC utilized a cadaver dog survey, with Pocket, a Parson Russell Terrier. L-R Cheryl Johnston, of Ohio State University, flanker Sarah, of KYK9 Rescue Service, Jennifer Jordan Hall, Director KYK9 Search and Reunite, and ASC’s Kevin Schwarz.

Revisiting the Towpath of the Ohio and Erie Canal

Investigating the archaeology of the Towpath of the Ohio and Erie Canal in Summit County, Ohio

by David F. Klinge, MA, RPA

Portion of the 1994 Akron West, Ohio quadrangle (USGS 7.5′ topographic map) showing the project location.

Mitigating the adverse effects of modern environmental requirements with archaeological investigation of the Towpath of the Ohio and Erie Canal

The United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) recently proposed a series of barriers along the Towpath of the Ohio and Erie Canal and canal-related structures. Their goal is to prevent the migration of invasive Asian carp from the Tuscarawas River to the Canal and Cuyahoga River. The barriers, however, result in direct affects to the towpath and visual affects to the canal corridor.

Since it is already listed in the National Register of Historic Places, ASC Group, Inc. (ASC) collected data to help the USACE mitigate the adverse effects of the barriers along the Towpath of the Canal as it passes through the Cities of Barberton and Akron in Summit County.

Identifying and defining historical events of the Canal through its archaeology

Although the Ohio and Erie Canal’s historic and cultural significance is well established, the towpath has received relatively little attention. It was constructed of excavated spoil from the canal prism.  Over the years, the towpath was subjected to countless episodes of repair and rehabilitation. Finally, the towpath was converted into a recreational trail conforming to modern safety standards. This final conversion makes it is easy to assume the towpath retains little integrity or that it does not retain the ability to provide meaningful data beyond its location. Surprisingly, it is possible to identify and define significant events in the history of the canal through the archaeology of the towpath.

The Towpath’s somewhat murky history

The canal was built between 1825 and 1832 to connect Lake Erie at Cleveland to the Ohio River at Portsmouth. Construction specifications were developed and included in the bid documents for potential contractors and required the canal to be at least 40 feet wide at the water’s surface, 26 feet wide at the bottom of the prism, and at least four feet deep.

No clear specifications for the Towpath construction

General specifications for the towpath were also included in the bid documents. There were clear directives on the breadth and height of the canal embankments. For example, the embankments specifically needed to support the towpath in various situations in which the water in the canal was lower than, even with, or higher than the adjacent lands.

View facing west of a low spot along the Towpath Trail, where the trail height and towpath surface falls below the 100-year flood level.

However, there were no specifications for the surface of the towpath or the weight it was anticipated to hold. Neither were there any directives regarding its makeup other than noting that it was to be built of the best available locally excavated soil (McClelland and Huntingdon 1905:161).

This lack of directives created a situation in which the matrix, if not the form, of the towpath was highly varied along its length. Only the form of the towpath was governed by any measurable specifications.

Climate and erosion drive expensive maintenance for the Ohio and Erie Canal and its Towpath

The variation was compounded by an annual cycle of repair and rehabilitation. Annual freeze/thaw cycle and spring freshets regularly caused damage to the canal. The towpath, in particular, was prone to erosion. These phenomena destroyed portions of the towpath and also deposited sediment loads in the prism that needed to be dredged (Unrau and Scrattish 1984).

Required annual maintenance meant that for much of its life the canal was a financial burden on the State of Ohio. As such, it was allowed to fall into a state of disrepair by the end of the nineteenth century. Following the mid-nineteenth century rise of the railroads, traffic on the canal declined year after year. By 1865, the repair and maintenance costs exceeded the canal’s annual receipts until 1913 (McClelland and Huntingdon 1905:110–111).

The expensive effort to keep the Canal viable

In the first decade of the twentieth century, a major repair program began. The goal was to make the canal once again an asset to Ohio industries (Whitman and Mustain 2001). As with the original bids, the 1905 construction bids contained no specifications for the towpath except to note that it was to be made of dredged fill from the prism and leveled by state repair gangs (Board of Public Works 1905 and 1909).

Nearly the entirety of the canal system in Ohio was abandoned after a massive spring flood in 1913. Despite its recent overhaul, the 1913 flood caused such extensive damage to the Ohio and Erie Canal that a return to operation was deemed unfeasible (Whitman and Mustain 2001).

View facing west of unit excavation along the towpath

New life for the Canal with the Towpath Trail

At the end of the twentieth century, a rising appreciation for our historic built environment led to the advent of the Towpath Trail. Portions of this trail are still under construction. However, the project is rehabilitating the towpath into a modern multi-use trail system. The Towpath Trail includes new trail bedding, surface treatments, and conforms to current safety standards.

Archaeological data recovery on the Towpath

How ASC gathered information to help mitigate effects of modern nuisance management

To mitigate the effect of the USACE’s nuisance species project on the towpath, ASC excavated three one-meter by one-meter (3.3 ft. x 3.3 ft.) test units. One test unit was placed in each of three areas. These were selected where construction plans had the greatest potential to affect the towpath. Each unit was situated to investigate the southern shoulder of the Towpath Trail. Thy extended approximately 30 cm (12 in) into the paved surface, while leaving sufficient space on the trail for bikers, pedestrians, park maintenance vehicles, etc., to pass. Two of the three units recovered sufficient stratigraphic information and artifacts to interpret the sequence of construction from ca. 1825 to the present.

Digging down to the 1825 construction of the Towpath of the Ohio and Erie Canal

The units were excavated to a depth of 1.5 m (5 ft.) below the Towpath Trail surface. Although these excavations did not expose sterile subsoil, or even the base of the original towpath, it was sufficiently deep to expose soils from the ca. 1825 construction. The two intact units had varied stratigraphy. However, based on included artifacts, the various soil lenses were separated into broader stratigraphic units based on likely depositional history, called cultural strata.

The first Cultural Stratum consisted of soils associated with the modern Towpath Trail. These were deposited in the last decades of the twentieth century through the present.

The second Cultural Stratum, consisted of various fill lens deposited between ca. 1930s and construction of the Towpath Trail.

The third Cultural Stratum is the material associated with the active life and use of the towpath. In the westernmost unit, Cultural Stratum III was deposited during the 1905 to 1909 rehabilitation event. In the centrally located unit, the third Cultural Stratum was original towpath berm material deposited during the ca. 1825 construction.

A peek back through the timeline of the life of the Towpath

These small windows into the towpath stratigraphy and the handful of diagnostic artifacts allow us to determine the sequence of construction. The windows also reveal that the cultural strata are each associated with significant periods of construction, repair, or reuse in the towpath’s nearly 200-year history. In both units, the first Cultural Stratum marks the construction and continued use of the Towpath Trail, connecting the modern recreational use of the towpath and canal with its historic secondary function as a recreational area for swimming, fishing, and boating.

In Unit 1, Cultural Stratum 2 was deposited in the third quarter of the twentieth century, or later. This is indicated by the fragments of plastic food packaging. Given this modern origin, this deposit may be associated with the Towpath Trail. Alternatively, it may have been deposited in the decades preceding the trail construction during an undocumented repair of the failing towpath. Although the canal was not operational during this period, it was still the only feature keeping the canal waters from flowing south into the Tuscarawas River. Therefore, maintenance was still required. The fill for the maintenance was likely derived from canal dredge and the artifacts originated as refuse in the canal prism.

Early Twentieth Century Maintenance of the Towpath

In Unit 2, 21 artifacts were recovered from Cultural Stratum 2. Unlike the second stratum in Unit 1, this stratum did not contain clearly modern materials like plastics. Rather, the artifacts from Unit 2 may connect this stratum with the functioning towpath and canal. However, a more reasonable interpretation is that it was deposited during private repair efforts after the 1913 flood ended active shipping on the canal.

After 1913, the State abandoned the canal. However, local industries in several locations depended on intact segments as water supply and for localized movement of materials. Six of the artifacts recovered from this stratum are diagnostic.  These include vulcanized rubber fragments, decorated and undecorated whiteware fragments, and fragments of a 1930s Pepsi-Cola bottle. Lacking the clearly modern material observed in Unit 1, this stratum appears to represent fill dredged in the first half of the twentieth century after the 1913 flood.

Maintaining the Towpath of the Ohio and Erie Canal at the turn of the 20th Century

In both units, Cultural Stratum 3 it is likely associated with the use and operation of the canal and towpath prior to 1913. While artifacts were recovered, none were of clearly twentieth century origin. Furthermore, they were qualitatively different than those in the overlying soils.

Whereas the overlying fills contain mass produced, popular cultural food and drink packaging typical of casual refuse disposal in densely populated areas, the artifacts from Cultural Stratum 3 were predominantly hardware fragments. It also included a few datable pieces of structural tile that were made near the turn of the twentieth century.

The absence of modern materials, coupled with the existence of items from ca. 1900, suggests that this stratum was not associated with the construction of the modern Towpath Trail or the initial construction of the towpath at the beginning of the Canal Era. The original towpath berm structure was built from soil excavated from the adjacent canal prism. It is expected to contain few, if any, historic artifacts. As such, this stratum was likely deposited during a late-nineteenth century or early twentieth century repair. Given the manufacturing dates associated with the hollow tile, it is interpreted as evidence of the 1905–1909 reconstruction.

Berm material from the original Towpath

In Unit 2, no artifacts were recovered from or observed in Cultural Stratum 3. It also had a substantively different soil matrix than Cultural Stratum 3 in Unit 1. Here, it was marked by a homogenous yellowish-brown sand with small stone inclusions. The homogeneity indicates it was deposited as a single event and from a single source. The lack of artifacts suggests it was derived from the canal prism at a time when no historic material would have accumulated. It appears to be the berm material from the original ca. 1825 towpath.

A small sample with big implications for the Towpath of the Ohio and Erie Canal

Excavation of two undisturbed units is perhaps too small a sample to make grand pronouncements about the integrity and interpretive viability of the towpath. However, they offer a sufficient justification for further investigation.

The third unit in this mitigation proves that substantial portions of this feature have been so heavily affected by modern development that location is the only remaining information. This investigation also reinforces what the historic record and past investigations have documented. The towpath is highly variable along its length and it is very unlikely that any two profiles, even in close proximity to each other, will be the same.

However, this Phase III mitigation shows that even under those conditions, or perhaps even because of them, interpretable information about the towpath’s construction, repair, and reuse can be documented. This data can only add to our understanding of this important, but historically unappreciated element of the Ohio and Erie Canal.

This content was also published on the website of the Ohio Archaeological Council.


References Cited

Board of Public Works

1905 Notice to Contractors. Copies available at the University of Akron Archives, Akron, Ohio. Canal Society of Ohio Archives – CSO Box 7, Folder 16.

1909 Annual Report of the Board of Public Works. Copies available at the University of Akron Archives, Akron, Ohio. Canal Society of Ohio Archives – CSO Box 2, Folder 6.

McClelland, C. P. and C. C. Huntingdon

1905 History of the Ohio Canals: Their Construction, Cost, Use and Partial Abandonment. Ohio State Archaeological and Historical Society and the Press of Fred J. Heer, Columbus, Ohio.

Unrau, Harlan D., and Nick Scrattish

1984 Ohio and Erie Canal Cuyahoga Valley National Recreation Area, Ohio. Manuscript on file, U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service, Lincoln, Nebraska.

Whitman, Linda G. and Chuck Mustain

2001 Phase III Data Recovery for 33CU372 for the CUY-145 Hillside Road Improvement Project (PID 9700) in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Cuyahoga County, Ohio. ASC Group, Inc., Columbus, Ohio. Submitted to URS Corporation, Cleveland, Ohio. Copies on file at the State Historic Preservation Office, Columbus, Ohio.