Canfield Island is a recent addition to the Susquehanna shoreline, having been added during the 19th century during Northcentral Pennsylvania’s lumber boom. But, before sawyers toiled in the mill, processing logs into lumber, American Indians called the area home. In fact, for the past 4,000 years or so, people have traveled to the river’s edge at Canfield, following the seasons as they hunted and gathered and eventually farmed.
Northcentral Chapter 8 of the Society for Pennsylvania Archaeology excavated at Canfield Island during the 1970s and ’80s, under the watchful eye of James Bressler, the region’s self-taught archaeological expert and patron of prehistory. I joined Northcentral Chapter 8 at Canfield Island in 2003, bringing along my Lycoming College archaeology field school. The students experienced public archaeology as they learned method and theory alongside non-students of all ages. In fact, Bressler was in his mid-80s at the time, still spry enough to join the group and point out interesting features that cropped up during the excavation.
All artifacts, field notes and reports generated by the Lycoming College archaeology, working with Northcentral Chapter 8 and its partner the Lycoming County Historical Society, are curated at the society’s museum.