Fall River County, South Dakota

1995 Excavations in progress at the Ray Long Site

The Ray Long site (39FA65) is situated on the northeast margin of the valley of Horsehead Creek, a northwest draining tributary of the Cheyenne River. The site lies on the northeast trending edge of a broad terrace that slopes to the southwest. The minor valley of a southwest-draining, ephemeral stream tributary to Horsehead Creek borders the site on the northwest. The broad terrace on which the site is situated is underlain by nearly horizontal bedrock composed of the Pierre Shale of Upper Cretaceous age. In the vicinity of the site the Pierre Shale is overlain by 2-6 m of Quaternary sediment, most of which is derived from the Pierre Shale. Today the land is located within the Angostura Recreation area. The reservoir has created cutbanks, primarily along the west side, which are actively eroding.


Wheeler's 1948-1950 Excavations

Wheeler's recently published manuscript entitled "Archeological Investigations in Three Reservoir Areas in South Dakota and Wyoming. Part I Angostura Reservoir" provides a description of the Smithsonian Institution River Basin Survey excavations accomplished at this site between 1948 and 1950.

Alex and Haug's 1985 Preliminary Investigation

In 1985, Bob Alex, then State Archaeologist, and Jim Haug, then Assistant State Archaeologist, accompanied Bureau of Reclamation archeologist Linda Ward-Williams on a trip to the Ray Long site. A charcoal sample was recovered, apparently from an eroding hearth on the west edge of Wheeler's bulldozed trenches at Area B. A date of 8130+-600 B.C. (Beta-13077) was obtained.

Hannus's 1985 Investigations

In 1985, the Ray Long site was reexamined (Hannus 1986) for the purpose of determining site size and integrity. A pedestrian survey of the site recovered three Angostura point fragments. The 1985 examination conducted by Hannus focused on Area B of the Ray Long site where six backhoe trenches were cut to evaluate the buried deposits. Two of the trenches produced features (charcoal concentrations), and radiocarbon dates were obtained from four features in one trench (Trench F). These dates ranged from 9050+-310 B.C. to 7000+-140 B.C.

Haug's 1987 Investigations

Investigations begun in 1985 in the Angostura Reservoir area continued under an agreement between the State Archaeological Research Center and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. Under this agreement, a crew led by Jim Haug returned to the Ray Long site (39FA65) to conduct further test excavations.

Hannus's 1992 investigations

The 1992 investigations served as a follow-up and expansion of the 1985 investigations. The primary focus in 1992 was the geomorphology of the Ray Long site.

The 1995 field crew

Current Activities


  • Ongoing excavations at the Ray Long site
  • Regional evaluation of the geomorphology
  • Evaluation of the Angostura Point Type
  • Recovery of a Clovis point base from below the Angostura levels during the 1995 excavations 


Illustration of Clovis point base recovered during the 1995 excavations