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February 2006
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November 2006

The Big Dig: Campaign for Greater Buffalo seeks Volunteers for Largest Ever Artifact Recovery Operation WNY

Unless the public can rescue them, thousands of historic artifacts taken from the terminus of the Erie Canal in downtown Buffalo will be crushed under the tracks of bulldozers at the Town of Tonawanda landfill. The Campaign for Greater Buffalo is undertaking an all-out, all-volunteer public effort called the Big Dig to recover as many artifacts as possible.

The event is to take place on Saturday August 12 and Sunday August 13, 2006 from 9am to 4pm and is open to those 12 and older. Participants will be able to take an artifact home. There is a $5.00 registration fee.

Volunteers are being urged to bring gloves, sunscreen, water bottles, leaf and garden rakes, shovels, and bottle and dish scrubbers. Individuals and groups wishing to volunteer must contact the Campaign at 716-884-3138 or [email protected] to register. Volunteers will be assigned a two-hour shift.

Oysters The operation will consist of recovering, cleaning, sorting the artifacts, most of which will consist of oyster shells, bottles, ceramic dishes and jugs, and small metal articles. The artifacts were deposited between 1825, when the canal opened, and 1926, when the Commercial Slp was filled after construction of a large storm drain in its bed.
There is a need for empty liqour boxes to hold recovered bottles, and newspapers and small boxes to protect miscellaneous fragile objects.

Donations to sustain the volunteers are also being sought, from portable toilets to hot dogs and hamburgers and people to grill them.

Artifacts will be collected for later display at the Canal District and elsewhere

Over 200 dumptruck loads of artifact-rich debris has been dumped.

The Campaign for Greater Buffalo found out about the proposed disposal last autumn and was unsuccessful in getting an agreement with Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) officials to do the recovery operation on-site.