Oxbow Park & Zollman Zoo, Olmsted County, Minnesota

Over the past couple of years, NCC has been working with Olmsted County at the Oxbow Park & Zollman Zoo just north of Byron, Minnesota, by completing archaeological work ahead of several improvement projects including a new bison exhibit, the placement of a caretaker home, a new nature center, and a proposed new campground. NCC excavated hundreds of shovel tests within the combined project areas, and even spent some nights camped in the existing campground on the northern side of the complex. Throughout the several projects, NCC consistently documented Native American habitation and resource use within the area dating back 1000s of years.  

One of the best parts of the project has been connecting current Cultural Resource Management efforts into those of previous researchers. Nearly 45 years previously, archaeologists from the Luther College Archaeological Research Center had completed work in parts of the park. Although their work was not as complete as the standards required today, they still identified Archaic and Woodland sites in the park. NCC was able to view these collections at the Minnesota Historical Society and incorporate both sets of data into one, large dataset, significantly enhancing the archaeological understanding of this beautiful locality.  

NCC looks forward to continuing to work with Olmsted County to complete more projects throughout the area and continue documenting the region’s rich cultural history.