The Haley's Point Site
Point, beginning excavations of Main House area in summer, 1988.
Photo courtesy of Lowell D. Holmes Museum of Anthropology, Wichita
Thirty miles from the confluence of the Washita River with the
Red River, a bluff is eroding into Lake Texoma. This tall bluff
is the site of many thousands of years of human habitation. It is
known as the Haley's Point site.
Near the base of the bluff, spearpoints of hunters from the Pleistocene,
when mammoths and other now-extinct animals roamed the North American
continent, have been found. Mammoth bones were excavated from the
gravels at the base of the bluff. Above this layer is some 15 feet
of sandy loam which accumulated during the long period known to
archaeologists as the Archaic (8,000 to 2,000 years ago). Halfway
through this sandy loam is a thin layer of calcium carbonate which
probably accumulated during the long, harsh drought of the Altithermal.
The top of the bluff contains 1 1/2 to 2 foot of soil which was
plowed at sometime during the 20th century. (View an intereactive
movie of Oklahoma's prehistoric timeline here).
For seven seasons during the late 1980s and early 1990s, Wichita
State University, under a contract from the Corps of Engineers,
conducted excavations at Haley's Point. Those excavations pertain
to the relatively short time period of the last 1,000 years when
Haley's Point was apparently intensively occupied by farming villagers.
During excavations, archaeologists uncovered the postmolds of several
houses. One style of house is believed to date to around 1,000 years
ago and is a square house with four centerposts supporting a grass
thatch roof. The walls were also grass-covered smeared over with
a layer of wet earth. This house was about 700 square feet and had
a central hearth with a smoke hole in the roof above the hearth.
This house probably burned after it had been abandoned.
Another house dates to a slightly earlier period, possibly when
prehistoric people were moving from a mobile hunting and gathering
lifestyle to a more sedentary village life with gardening supplementing
their wild game and plant foods. This house is oval, again with
four center posts.
The people of Haley's Point had a varied diet consisting of deer
and fish (bone fishhooks were recovered in the excavations) along
with corn, squash and domesticated sunflower -- charred remains
of which were all found in the excavations. They tended their gardens
with hoes made from mussel shell hoes hafted to handles. They used
bow and arrow to hunt and made pottery from clay gathered locally.
The significance of the Haley's Point site to our understanding
of the long prehistory of the Red River area was marked by the addition
of the site to the National Register of Historic Places in 1991.
For further reading:
Haley's Point (34MA15) on the Red River Marshall County, Oklahoma
(Area F) by Arthur H. Rohn, Wichita State University Publications
in Anthropology No 4, 1998.
Number of Prehistoric Sites in Marshall
County Identified to Time Period