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Cultural Resources Survey of the Sinclair Hydro Project

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The Georgia Power Company constructed and operates the Sinclair hydroelectric generating facility located on the Oconee River just north of Milledgeville. The 15,300 ac (6,070 ha) Lake Sinclair was formed by the completion of the Sinclair Dam in 1951. The project is now in the process of being relicensed by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, and one facet of the process is consideration of any potential effects of the project on significant cultural resources. To make this assessment, the Georgia Power Company sponsored a reconnaissance survey in 1991 that identified 38 tracts, totaling about 2,000 ac (810 ha), as being likely locations for intact, significant archeological sites. From October 19 to December 18, 1992, Southeastern Archeological Services, Inc. conducted an intensive archeological survey of the 38 designated tracts. The project tracts comprised about 10 percent of the total shoreline area. The goals of the survey were to locate all sites in the tracts, evaluate their significance (in terms of eligibility to the National Register of Historic Places), assess current and anticipated project impacts to eligible sites, and make recommendations for the preservation of the sites or the information they contain. National Register of Historic Places criteria for eligibility were used to evaluate site significance, and mainly criteria d, relating to the ability of a site to yield important information was employed. Data gathered by the survey were measured against the research issues developed for the project in order to conclude whether a site was likely to yield important (i.e., not trivial or redundant) information beyond which had already been gathered by the survey. Site integrity was also a principal factor in determining eligibility. Since Lake. Sinclair is so heavily developed and eroded, many sites have been badly disturbed. The fact that so much of the lake has been heavily disturbed elevates the importance of those sites that retain some integrity, even if only partially. Also, the fact that this survey focused on the 10 percent of the lakeshore thought most likely to contain significant sites suggests that the sites encountered are likely to be the best that exist on lake property. This report presents the results and recommendations of the intensive survey. This survey, the pre-inundation Furman Shoals survey, and other cultural resource management studies in the area have located and recorded sites spanning approximately 10,000 years of prehistory and history along the Oconee River. Three Late Paleoindian, 22 Early Archaic, 37 Middle Archaic, 55 Late Archaic, 43 Woodland, 65 Mississippian, and 26 nineteenth/twentieth century historic components were identified on 152 sites. Occupation density, expressed as the number of components per 100 years, indicates that the population in the Lake Sinclair reservoir gradually increased through the Archaic Period, dropped off during the Woodland Period, then increased again during the Mississippian Period, particularly during the Lamar phase. Ninety sites in Lake Sinclair were recommended not eligible to the National Register of Historic Places because they were not likely to yield important archeological information. Twenty eight are recommended eligible to the National Register. A discussion of effects on discovered sites and a plan of action for either preservation, testing, or data recovery of potentially eligible or eligible sites is also presented. The following table presents management summary, including eligibility assessment, for all sites in the project area.