Archaeologists working on the site of a former Philadelphia shipyard that was in business before the arrival of William Penn have found large, wooden pegs that might have been intended to hold a ship together.
Pegs were used in construction before nails became the preferred method. The ones found at the West Shipyard site – now a parking lot on the west side of Columbus Boulevard near Vine Street – are about a foot long, said Project Archaeologist Tim Mancl. “These are not from a house,” he said.
So are they related to the West family's shipbuilding enterprise? Potentially, Mancl said, but he can't say for certain until the team does more research into 17th Century shipbuilding techniques and tools.
An overview of the findings.
Mancl works for John Milner Associates of West Chester, the firm hired by the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation to conduct a preliminary study of the ground beneath the parking lot to determine if more archaeology must be done at the site before it can be redeveloped as part of the city's plan to revitalize the Central Delaware Waterfront.
In addition to the pegs, the team has found several rough-hewn logs running perpendicular to the original Delaware River shoreline. Mancl said they are either related to the West Shipyard or 17th Century Philadelphian's efforts to extend the land further into the river. Either way, it's a significant find.
“We're excited about it,” he said.
Friday, Doug Mooney, president of the Philadelphia Archaeological Forum, which advised DRWC as it decided how to proceed with the property, said the slipway "is almost certainly still well-preserved beneath the parking lot."
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