Archaeological Dig Underway on South Side

Hope is to dig up parts of Camp Douglas

By Mitchell Grogg
|  Friday, Jun 29, 2012  |  Updated 7:46 AM CDT
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Archaeological Dig Underway on South Side

Camp Douglas Restoration Foundation

Men enlisted at Camp Douglas, c. 1864

A major archaeological dig is underway on Chicago's near south side.

Crews are digging for limestone, but they are not mining the valuable material. They are looking for parts of a Civil War military installation.

The Camp Douglas Restoration Foundation is hoping to find the exact locations of parts of Camp Douglas in three places near East 31st Street and South Cottage Grove Avenue, the northeast boundary of the old military facility. They are making three digs of about a meter deep.

Camp Douglas stretched for nearly 30 acres and served as a training ground for nearly 40,000 Union soldiers during the Civil war, said David Keller of the Camp Douglas Restoration Foundation.

It also housed a total of 12,000 Confederate prisoners.

In their search, crews have already managed to unearth a few pieces of the old installation after initially mapping out the area with radar.

"We've already found some limestone that appears to be of the right period," said Keller.

Crews have found a few trinkets from the war, but in the end, to Kellner, it is all about digging up any history they can.

"If we find some nice artifacts from the period, that'd be wonderful," he said. "But we're also looking to find some artifacts from other periods to help really identify important items of the history of Bronzeville, which is just as important as the history of Camp Douglas."

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