Des Plaines River latest dig site for state archaeologists

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Christian Cameron of Chicago, a Greencorps intern, sifts through soil as the Illinois Archaeological Survey conducts a dig Thursday along the Des Plaines River in Cook County. | Joe Lewnard | Daily Herald

Digging for pieces of history is like being a little kid searching for treasure in a sandbox, says Christian Cameron.

“Only now the forest preserve is my sandbox,” said Cameron, an intern with the green jobs training program Greencorps.

Cameron is part of a 10-person crew of archaeologists and interns canvassing Cook County forest preserve land along the Des Plaines River for artifacts of local history.

The project is run in conjunction with The Prairie Research Institute’s State Archaeological Survey, the Illinois State Water Survey and the Forest Preserves of Cook County. It is part of the forest preserve’s Natural and Cultural Resources Master Plan, released in 2014.

Archaeologists recovered settlement sites in the South suburbs earlier this year and are now working along the river in northwest Cook County.

There are about 550 archaeological sites in the forest preserve, said Jenny Benish, a staff archaeologist with the Illinois State Archaeological Survey.

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