During construction at a downtown ENMAX substation, an interesting find was unearthed last week by workers who halted activities and alerted archeologists of the discovery. Located close to the Canadian Pacific rail line, artifacts relating to the building and maintenance of those lines were found buried under dirt and gravel. The artifacts may date to as early as the late 19th or early 20th Century, but further research is required to determine their exact age. Construction of the rail track that previously existed on the site began in 1882.
"Significant historical items can often be found in old areas of major cities," said Michelle Wickham, Senior Project Archeologist and Partner, Bison Historical Services Ltd. "Unfortunately, when items are discovered, they are not always handled as they should be, leading to either damage or total loss altogether. We commend ENMAX for preserving Calgary's historical record in this way."
The recovered historic tools were likely related to day-to-day activities at the rail yard and probably used for laying or replacing rails and railway tile. The items include pickaxe heads, rail spikes and other miscellaneous items. A single brick was recovered with a shallow frog (likely hand pressed) with the word 'Calgary' stamped into the frog. Also, window glass and clinker, a waste matter separated from metals during smelting, were recovered (clinker may have been related to steam engines or coal-fired stoves).
ENMAX has been working on a major capacity upgrade to its substation. Initially built in the early 1960s, the upgrades were necessary to maintain the integrity of the electrical system in the city's growing downtown core. The excavation work that unearthed the find was accomplished using special equipment and methodical procedures. These steps took into consideration any other items that may have been underground at the over 50-year-old facility and while working around electrically energized equipment.
"We were surprised to find historically relevant items, and while we didn't fully understand their significance, we knew we needed to report the discovery," said Doris Kaufmann Woodcock, ENMAX Spokesperson. "Although it's believed that the most significant items have been recouped, this phase of the project is still ongoing, so we will have a professional archeologist on site for the duration."
ENMAX, through its subsidiaries, makes, moves and sells electricity to residential, small business and large commercial customers and is headquartered in Calgary, Alberta, with offices in Edmonton. ENMAX Power Corporation owns and operates transmission and distribution infrastructure in Calgary and ENMAX Energy Corporation owns diverse electricity generation facilities throughout the province. Since 2007, ENMAX has been named one of Alberta's Top Employers. ENMAX Energy is currently the retailer of choice for both The City of Calgary and The City of Edmonton.
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