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Phase II Archaeological Research at the Radisson Hotel Site, Savannah, Chatham County, Georgia

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During May, 1990, the Jeffrey L. Brown Institute of Archaeology, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, and Panamerican Consultants, Inc., conducted a Phase 11 archaeological investigation of a tract on the east side of Savannah, Georgia, for the Columbia Sussex Corporation. As the site of a proposed hotel and river walk complex accessing the Savannah River, the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Department of Natural Resources, State of Georgia, required cultural resource testing to determine if remains located in an earlier archaeological survey of the tract were eligible for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places. Part of the cultural resources investigated during the project consisted of the hull remains of a derelict sailing vessel of twentieth century origin. Several fragments of this vessel were removed from the edge of the riverbank through the use of a backhoe and crane and photographed and mapped. Other fragments that would have been damaged if moved from the mud were recorded in situ. Wood samples were taken from major sections of the hull. Construction details of the hull fragments suggest that they are part of a U.S. Navy YTB (Large Harbor Tug). Since examples of YTBs still abound today, these remains are not considered eligible for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places, and no further research is recommended for them. In addition, a wharf area on the western end of the project area was also documented through photography and mapping. This area contains a moveable concrete loading ramp and associated wooden dock built in 1950 by the Merry Brothers Brick and Tile Company. Cyprus pilings from an earlier dock were incorporated into the construction of the later dock. Just to the west of the modern loading ramp is an all-wood dock containing the remnants of two wooden ramps. Based on its form and method of construction, this structure is interpreted as being part of a World War I era ship ways (presumably built by the Kehoe Foundry). An alternative interpretation is provided by a local informant, who stated that it was constructed during World War II by the Savannah Machine and Foundry Company. Documentary and cartographic data neither support nor deny either scenario. It is possible that the ship ways was reused by Savannah Machine in the manner described by the informant. Whatever its origin, the ship ways is a rare example of a poorly-documented facet of commercial life on the Savannah river front and is therefore considered eligible for inclusion in the National Register. However, this resource has been recorded in such detail during the present project that mitigation level research has effectively already been carried out on it. Hence, no other archaeological research is considered necessary. Finally, as part of this project a second derelict hull located across the river from Fort Jackson was investigated to determine if it had any relationship with the Radisson Site remains. Based on numerous differences in construction, it was concluded that the two hulls were part of separate vessels.