Dendroarchaeology in Fillmore, Utah

Authors: Samuel Wyatt*, Brigham Young University, Matthew Bekker, Brigham Young University, Shayla Otake, Brigham Young University, William Ault, Brigham Young University
Topics: Historical Geography
Keywords: Dendrochronology, Archaeology, Tree Rings, Douglas-fir, Utah, Cabin
Session Type: Poster
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 3:05 PM / 4:45 PM
Room: Lincoln 2, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Presentation File: Download



Fillmore, Utah was the territorial capital from 1851 to 1856. As part of a historical site there are three original log cabins on the grounds with the former Utah Territorial Statehouse. We examined tree rings from 56 Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) cores extracted from two cabins, the Davies Cabin and the Joseph Payne Cabin, to (1) establish cutting dates of the timbers used in the cabins, (2) corroborate the documented practices of using deadwood or repurposing timbers in Utah and other arid, western states, and (3) determine the provenance of the timbers. We created a floating chronology through skeleton plotting, a form of visual cross dating, and then compared it with various chronologies from the area to find the correct dates. We then used the statistical software, COFECHA, to verify the dates of the 208-year chronology. We found that cutting dates for the first cabin, or ‘Davies Cabin’, ranged from 1834-1873 with a strong cluster of 23 cutting dates from 1871-1873 and a smaller cluster of four logs with cutting dates from 1856. From the second cabin, or Joseph Payne Cabin, we sampled 15 individual logs each with a cutting date of 1870. Much of the wood used in the cabins at Fillmore was likely repurposed from other buildings or projects or came from already dead trees.

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