Numerous setbacks including mounting construction costs on the 25-year-old South Timberlane project have just been compounded by the discovery that not only was the land built on a number of previously unknown oil wells, but also on an ancient Indian burial ground.
Citing the newest discovery, John Milam, owner of Milam Construction, which has been in charge of the road’s construction since the project began in 2008, explained that this is the reason the clay expands each time it gets wet.
“We’ve been working on digging out that clay for so long, we just never expected this was the reason for all the difficulties we’ve had laying down asphalt,” he said. “It’s a complete shock.”
The discovery was made during a concerted dig perpetuated by South Arkansas University Archeology Expert Jamie Brandon and Paranormal Studies and Afterlife Expert Willow Rain late last week.
Though the two suspected all along that there was a more specific reason for the clay’s stubborn movement, neither can agree on why the Indian burial ground would prove such a difficult area to widen a road, Brandon said.
“The clay obviously contains incredibly valuable artifacts from the early eighteenth century,” he said as he held up a diminutive clay pot that was removed from the ground Saturday morning.
Brandon continued, “So every time the earth gets wet following a deluge of rainfall, the openings are created directly above where the artifacts have been buried.”
Rain, however, disagrees completely.
“The fact is that these spirits are completely disgusted that their bodies are being defiled with the addition of new asphalt on their earthly resting home,” she said, lighting incense along Timberlane as she attempted to commune with the long-dead and buried Native Americans. “Their graves should not be marked with a manmade substance, but rather the Earth Mother’s clean dirt opened up to the glorious sun above.”
She added that the amount of money spent so far on construction alone — just shy of $1.1 million and approximately 49 percent above budget — has also possibly contributed to the spirits’ anger with the city of El Dorado.
“These people had no need of material goods,” Rain explained. “They were natural beings with the sole needs of food and shelter.”
Shaking his head, Brandon offered a disgruntled disagreement, saying he was happy the two had worked together to dig the site before the asphalt was laid, but couldn’t get on board with the idea that the spirits have been angered by the construction.
Not conceding, Brandon said it’s much more likely “that the ground is merely opening up with the artifacts buried deep in the Earth. Now all we have to do is dig them out.”
He also does not buy into the idea that actual bodies still remain beneath the ground next to the new El Dorado High School.
Conscious of the archeological necessity of preserving a part of the local history, but also the present monetary impact on the city, Milam said he and his workers would have to think long and hard before moving forward with the project.
“Each day we lag behind the deadline we lose $350,” he said. “But the history of El Dorado is far too important to destroy by laying a new layer of asphalt on it.”
A frazzled El Dorado Mayor Frank Hash couldn’t understand the fuss over the artifacts, as he riffled through bills, his glasses topped precariously on his head.
Hesitant to lay blame to anyone, Hash was baffled as to why the project wasn’t completed by the September 2009 deadline and couldn’t pinpoint why so many bills all seemed to be coming in at once.
“I’m just the new guy, this is all completely foreign to me,” he said. “But if we can just get Timberlane out of the way and done we can move onto a number of various other projects we’ve been working on completing.”