Our Work

This section contains quick summaries of projects large and small conducted by Southern Research. You'll find large-scale excavations, Section 106 surveys, and nearly every size project in between. For more information on any of our research, please feel free to contact us.

Industrial History and Archaeological Mitigation

Historic Mill Dams of the Chattahoochee River, Georgia and Alabama

2011 - 2014

Southern Research was chosen by UpTown Columbus as the prime contractor for mitigation of the historic mill dams on the Chattahoochee River. Two masonry dams built in 1882 and 1907 were recently removed to restore the Chattahoochee River between Columbus, Georgia and Phenix City, Alabama where it crosses the Fall Line. This ongoing endeavor involves the coordination of industrial archaeologists, underwater archaeologists, historians, and an historic architect as they prepare Historic American Engineering Record documents required by the mitigation. After these dams were breached, our teams discovered eight earlier wooden dams and other industrial features that were built from 1828 through 1871. This work was mandated through a MOA with the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers, Mobile District and required coordination with the Georgia and Alabama State Preservation Offices.

A website explaining the dams, our work, and the long history around the river is available at http://southres.com/uptowncolumbusdams

Archaeological Surveys

National Forests of South Carolina

2001 – 2014

Southern Research has conducted fifteen Phase One Intensive Surveys in the South Carolina National Forests since 2001. We have surveyed over 22,600 acres, over 50 miles of proposed right of way and recorded 681 archaeological sites in the coastal plain, piedmont and mountains. We have applied innovative approaches to our surveys being the first CRM firm to deliver GIS files to the Forest Service with precise GPS coordinates, the first to use LiDAR imagery to aid our fieldwork and the first to use 3D scanning of unique artifacts. Our surveys have recorded Native American sites from all periods of prehistory, 18th, 19th and 20th century historic sites and historic cemeteries. We currently hold a three year state wide IDIQ contract with the National Forests in South Carolina.

Industrial History and Archaeological Surveys

Old Cahawba Railroad, Alabama

2013 – 2014

Southern Research is conducting extensive historical and archaeological research on one of the south’s oldest railroad corridors, the Cahawba to Marion Junction railroad ca. 1854. Cahawba was the first capital of Alabama from 1820 to 1826 and today is the Old Cahawba Archaeological Park. Although a charter was granted in 1834 for the building of a railway from Marion Junction to Cahawba, it was not actually constructed until 1854. During the Civil War these iron rails were pulled up and used to make a more important connection to Selma where a munitions factory was located. During the mid nineteenth century, just before the railroad entered Cahawba, a plank road provided a method of travel through the town. We combined LiDAR imagery and ArcGIS, as well as field survey, to locate old road traces, including the plank road, some of which had remained fairly obscure for the past few decades due to changes in the landscape.

Archaeological Survey

Various Cell Towers in North Carolina


We recently conducted ten surveys for proposed cellular phone towers in North Carolina. This work was done according to the new regulations issued by the FCC and Eastern Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma. The work involved intensive archaeological surveys and detailed reporting conducted in a hurry.

Archaeological Site Evaluation

Pelham Range, Alabama


The Alabama Army National Guard hired Southern Research to evaluate 15 archaeological sites at Pelham Range near Anniston. These sites, found over the last three decades, had never been evaluated and some had not been visited in 20 years. Some of these sites contain stone mounds and stone walls that may or may not be Native American constructions. Pelham Range is the primary training facility for the Alabama Army National Guard and our field crews must pass specific range safety training course before working on the installation.

Industrial History

Garrison Dam, North Dakota

2012 – 2013

The U. S. Army Corps of Engineers, Omaha District, needed to evaluate Garrison Dam on the Missouri River in North Dakota for listing on the National Register of Historic Places. They selected a team with Southern Research’s President, Kay Wood, as Principal Historian to complete the evaluation. Garrison Dam is one of the largest earthen dams in the world and was built by the Corps in the years following World War II for flood control and hydroelectric power generation. Kay Wood researched the history of the dam and placed it in the broader context of large federal dam building and water power development as a part of the National Register nomination.

Archaeological survey

Proposed Don Carter State Park survey
Produced for the Georgia Department of Natural Resources


Southern Research recently conducted an archaeological survey for the proposed Don Carter State Park in northern Georgia. The new park will be adjacent to Lake Lanier, a Mobile District Corps of Engineers impoundment on the Chattahoochee River. Our crews covered approximately 1,300 acres of state and Corps owned land which required Archaeological Resource Protection Act Permits. The draft final report was review by Georgia's Office of the State Archaeologist with no comment and full concurrence with our findings and recommendations.

Archaeological survey and testing

Phase One Surveys for Transmission Line Corridors
Produced for Georgia Transmission Corporation, Tucker, Georgia


We conducted four Phase One Intensive Surveys totaling over 120 miles of existing Transmission Line Corridors in Georgia. Phase Two testing was conducted on eight archaeological sites that were threatened by scheduled maintenance activities. Our work included extensive historic background and literature reviews, intensive field surveys, test excavations, use of sub meter accurate GPS, laboratory analysis, GIS applications, collections preparation and comprehensive reporting. The work was accomplished under a demanding schedule and harsh summer heat; however, we were able to submit all deliverables before their deadlines.

Wetlands mitigation

Phase One Survey for Private Sector Client


Southern Research conducted a Phase One Intensive Survey of over 300 acres along the Chattahoochee River south of Columbus for a proposed wetlands and stream mitigation bank. The work included extensive historic background and literature reviews, intensive field surveys, use of sub meter accurate GPS, laboratory analysis, GIS applications, collections preparation and comprehensive reporting. Our Technical Report was accepted by the Savannah District Army Corps of Engineers without comment.

Archaeological survey and large-scale excavations

Leake Site, Cartersville, Georgia
Produced for the Georgia DOT


Archaeologists from Southern Research assisted the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) with the excavation of an ancient prehistoric center in Cartersville, Georgia whose Native American rulers and resident's participated in trade and exchange across eastern North America from about 300 BC to about AD 650. The Leake Site (the final e is silent in Leake) was the location of a large community consisting of a village separated by a deep ditch from two earthen mounds. The GDOT planned to widen Georgia Highways 61 and 113 and the archaeological site could not be avoided.

In 2004, Southern Research, Historic Preservation Consultants, Inc. was selected by GDOT to carry out the stipulations of a Memorandum of Agreement between the GDOT, FHWA, the State of Georgia and Native American Tribes. The archaeological data recovery took place only within the proposed required right of way for a distance of about 2,500 linear feet on both sides of the existing road. Previous investigations had found areas within the right of way where archaeological features and deposits were present.

The archaeologists recorded over 2,600 features including posthole stains from dwellings, storage pits, earth ovens and hearths. We estimate that well over 500,000 artifacts were recovered ranging from pottery sherds, projectile points, ground stone tools, chipped stone debris, smoking pipes, pottery effigies of people and animals, and pottery and stone beads. Over 30 archaeologists and technicians worked for 11 months in the field to excavate the site. Laboratory analysis took another three years. The Final Report was completed in 2010 and is available from the GDOT.

The archaeological investigations at the Leake Site demonstrated that this Middle Woodland center was a major player in the politics, religion and culture from the Ohio River Valley to the Gulf of Mexico. We recovered artifacts from the Leake Site that came from as far away as what is now middle Ohio, southern Indiana, northern Florida, northeastern Mississippi and all over Georgia. Likewise, artifacts from the Leake Site have been found at these distant places. We believe that the rulers and residents at the Leake Site controlled travel and trade between many Middle Woodland societies in what is now the Eastern U. S. A major factor in the rise to power of the Leake Site is the availability of numerous important minerals in the Cartersville area. Mica, quartz crystals, slate, hematite, greenstone, shale, and biotite are present with five miles of the site. These minerals were used for ceremonial and utilitarian purposes by Middle Woodland cultures throughout what is now the Eastern U. S. Having access to and control of these resources would have enhanced the power of the Leake Site rulers and residents.

As part of a program of public outreach and education, Southern Research constructed an extensive website for the project called bartowdig.com, which provided citizens and students reseources to learn more about this important site.

The Leake Site study earned Southern Research and the GDOT the FHWA Exemplary Human Environment Initiative Award in 2007 for our work at the Leake Site. The award is "in recognition of outstanding commitment to improving the human and natural environment through archeological recovery and public involvement at the Leake Archeological site."

Archaeological survey and test excavations

LaGrange, Georgia Industrial Park
Produced for LaGrange, Georgia Chamber of Commerce


Sewon Precision Industry Co. Ltd selected a 65-acre tract of land near LaGrange Georgia for a new manufactoring facility to support Kia Motors in West Point, Georgia.

The factory is expected to create 700 jobs with an investment of $170 million over three years. Sewon will make stamped chassis and body components for the Kia plant. When the LaGrange, Georgia Chamber of Commerce was informed by the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers that a Cultural Resources Survey would be required, they contacted Southern Research for help.

We were able to quickly conduct the required survey and test excavations and produce a comprehensive compliance report that was accepted by both the Corps of Engineers and the Georgia State Historic Preservation Office. Our rapid response and experience allowed the facility to be constructed on time.

Archaeological Data Recovery

Highway 116 Hamilton, Georgia
Large Scale Excavation of the Palmetto Creek Archaeological Sites
Produced for the Georgia DOT


The Palmetto Creek Archaeological Study in Harris County, Georgia was funded by the Federal Highway Administration and the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT). Archaeological and Geo-morphological studies were conducted at three important Native American Indian sites before the GDOT replaces the bridges over Palmetto Creek and its tributaries along Highway 116 east of Hamilton, Georgia. During the late winter and early spring of 2006, archaeologists from Southern Research, Historic Preservation Consultants, Inc. of Waverly Hall, Georgia, excavated portions of the three sites that would be impacted by the proposed bridge replacement.

The analysis of our work suggests that for thousands of years, Native Americans frequented the terrace edges overlooking the rich floodplains of Palmetto Creek and the tributary streams. Some of the visits were short stops, perhaps overnight, to hunt or collect wild vegetable foods. At other times the duration may have been multi-seasonal lasting several months. One activity overshadows everything else we observed: the Indians reduced quartz cobbles to finely crafted stone tools through out much of prehistory. We recovered thousands of fractured pieces of high quality quartz, a mineral that is abundant in Harris and the Pine Mountain Region.

Sometime in the early nineteenth century, the floodplain began to fill with sediments deposited by Palmetto Creek and the other streams that flow into the broad valley here. The deforestation of Harris County for cotton agriculture in 1830s and 1840s exposed the fragile topsoils to severe erosion. Heavy rains washed the soils down the streams until they reached the valley where the archaeological sites are situated. Sand and silt filled the floodplains and then covered the higher terraces where the sites were found. Our consultant geomorphologist documented that over seven feet of sandy and silty sediments filled the floodplain and nearly two feet covered the archaeological sites. This dramatic change in the environment happened in about one hundred years.

Abandoned Cemetery Survey

Reid Cemetery Chambers County, Alabama
Cemetery Survey and Delineation
Produced for Farner Barley and Associates


The Reid Cemetery is in Chambers County, Alabama about five miles northwest of Lanett, Alabama. The cemetery is situated on a tract of land that was proposed for the Quail Run Sub Division, a residential development.

When an abandoned cemetery was accidentally discovered during construction, archaeologists from Southern Research were asked to assist the project engineers, Farner Barley and Associates, Inc. of West Point, Georgia. We conducted a survey to locate, inventory and map the graves in the cemetery and to make recommendations for future work. The Southern Research team determined that there were at least 26 marked and unmarked graves within and adjacent to a brick wall enclosure. We were able to precisely delineate the limits of the cemetery and working with the project engineer prepare a plan of action that would allow the planning and construction of the Quail Run Subdivision to proceed while protecting the graves from the proposed development

Telecommunications Tower

Broward County, Florida
History and Archaeological Survey
Produced for Practical Environmental Services


We conducted a small scale survey for a cellular telephone tower in south Florida. Because the proposed location was on the Seminole Indian Nation's Reservation we assisted our client by obtaining the required Archaeological Resources Protection Act permit to conduct the survey, coordinated the work with the US Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Seminole Tribal Preservation Office and Florida State Historic Preservation Office. We conducted the appropriate archival and field studies and prepared a final document that was favorably reviewed by all agencies.

Wetlands mitigation

Pine Mountain and Upatoi Creek Mitigation Banks
Phase One Cultural Resources Survey
Produced for Dr. Elizabeth Dreelin, Columbus Georgia

2006 and 2007

Southern Research conducted Phase One Cultural Resource Surveys for Dr. Elizabeth Dreelin, a wetlands mitigation banker in west Central Georgia. Dr. Dreelin proposed to restore streams and wetlands for two mitigation banks in order to provide mitigation credits for developers and agencies required to offset impacts to wetlands. Our teams worked closely with Dr. Dreelin and her ecological consultants to rapidly conduct the required surveys and prepare the detailed documentation for Corps of Engineers and State Historic Preservation Office reviews. Our reports were approved without comment and the important mitigation banks have been completed.

Section 106 Survey

Sumter and Francis Marion National Forests
Phase One Cultural Resources Survey
Produced for National Forests of South Carolina

2002 - Present

Since 2002, the U. S. Forest Service in South Carolina has awarded Southern Research six contracts to conduct Section 106 Cultural Resource Surveys in the Sumter and Francis Marion National Forests. These jobs totaled over 10,000 acres of forest lands that were scheduled for timber harvests and habitat improvements. Our experienced survey teams discovered hundreds of Native American and Historic Period archaeological sites and abandoned cemeteries. Our work enabled the Forest Service to protect those sites that were recommended significant and worthy of listing on the National Register of Historic Places from the impacts associated with logging.

Section 106 Survey

Bibb County, Georgia
History and Archaeological Survey
Produced for Southern Rivers Energy, Barnesville, Georgia


When Southern Rivers Energy, a Touchstone Energy Cooperative, was required by the Rural Utilities Service of the USDA to conduct a Phase One Cultural Resources Survey, they hired Southern Research to do the work. Southern Rivers Energy planned to construct an Operations and Maintenance Center near Macon, Georgia. Our team quickly responded and conducted archaeological surveys and test excavations along with a historic architecture survey in compliance with Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act. Our report was approved by the Georgia Historic Preservation Division and the utility company was able to proceed without delay on this important project.

Section 106 Survey

Bibb County, Georgia
History and Archaeological Survey
Produced for Macon-Bibb County Industrial Authority, Georgia

2007 and 2008

In 2007, the Macon-Bibb County Industrial Authority's Sofkee Industrial Park in Bibb County was chosen by the Georgia Allies and the Georgia Department of Economic Development to be the first site in Georgia to go through the Georgia Ready for Accelerated Development (GRAD) site certification program. The Industrial Authority hired Southern Research to conduct all Cultural Resource tasks for the certification. During our survey we found only one important cultural resource: a century old abandoned cemetery located in the middle of the 660 acre tract. Southern Research, working closely with the Industrial Authority, prepared the required legal documentation for the disinterment and relocation of the graves. The cemetery was relocated by Southern Research staff in October 2008 allowing the Authority's client, Kumho Tire - USA, to fully utilize the property.