MEDIA ADVISORY: Come on down!! UB’s summer Erie Canal archeological dig begins June 5

Map of excavation site.

Map of the excavation site at the Erie Canal terminus in downtown Buffalo

Release Date: June 4, 2013 This content is archived.


BUFFALO, N.Y. – UB and the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation present an opportunity for visitors – including children – to learn what archaeologists do, how they work and what they can teach us about life along the terminus of the Erie Canal in Buffalo.

WHAT:  The summer Demonstration Archaeological Excavation of the Erie Canal terminus in downtown Buffalo. The public is invited to watch the work, ask questions and learn about life on Buffalo’s waterfront from 1700, when the first Europeans began to influence indigenous life and culture in this region, until the mid-twentieth century.

WHERE: The site is directly across Main Street from the “Webster block,” bounded by Main and Hanover streets east of the Skyway pier. Hanover Street runs between Marine Drive and Prime Street. The site will be marked with large banners.

WHEN:  This year, the excavation site will be deeper and wider than last year, so it must be opened with a backhoe on June 5. Two months of hand-excavation will follow. A team of archaeologists and historians will work from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. (cleanup begins at 3 p.m.) on June 5, 15, 19 and 29; July 3, 13, 17, 27 and 31, and August 7, 10 and 21.


WHO:  A team of professional archaeologists and historians, along with University at Buffalo graduate students, will conduct the excavation, which is sponsored by the UB Archaeological Survey in Department of Anthropology and the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation. 

WHAT’S NEW: The excavation period is two months longer than in past years; large banners will describe the work going on; artifacts uncovered during previous digs will be displayed and their significance in understanding historical life on Buffalo’s waterfront will be explained by the archaeologists.  Because this dig is bigger and deeper than previously, some artifacts are expected to be older than in the past.

WHAT KIND OF ARTIFACTS WILL WE SEE? Because the canal terminus was an industrial and residential site for more than a century, as well a pass through site for immigrants moving west and ships moving east and west, the team so far has found a variety of industrial and maritime tools and tool parts, oyster shells, bottles, small metal objects, household items, ceramics, crockery and personal items like a doll, pipes, etc.

CONTACT: Nathan Montague, by phone at 716-352-6666

Media Contact Information

Patricia Donovan has retired from University Communications. To contact UB's media relations staff, call 716-645-6969 or visit our list of current university media contacts. Sorry for the inconvenience.