▶️ Archaeologists dig for artifacts in the path of Highway 97 realignment


The planned realignment of Highway 97 on Bend’s north end will displace dozens of businesses, including a local landmark—the Nels and Lillian Anderson Homestead.

As required by federal historic preservation laws, an excavation is being conducted at what was one of the largest dairy farms in Bend to catalog items of cultural interest.

The dig that could shed light on what life was like in Bend 100 years ago.

“We found a lot of broken glass from milk bottles, drinking glasses, ceramic from plates, cups,” said Brian Lane, an archaeologist with the University of Oregon’s Museum of Natural and Cultural History

A team is excavating what used to be a refuse pile at Nels and Lillian Anderson’s historic homestead.

Most people know the property today as Instant Landscaping.

“One of the more interesting things we found was a glass slipper from a doll. Medicine bottles. A cow bone, likely associated with a meal. Lots of ribs,” Lane said. 

The current landowner became aware of the private dump when he excavated to create a water feature in the early 2000s.

Now that the state wants to realign Highway 97 through the property, federal law requires an assessment of historic value.

“Dump excavations can be really cool in terms of who’s buying what, where. How were people living their daily lives?” said Kelly Cannon-Miller, Deschutes Historical Museum executive director. “It’s not the kind of stuff people typically record. It’s that extra level of documentation about how the Anderson family was living that we wouldn’t get otherwise.” 

The Anderson Dairy was one of the largest in Bend in the 1920s and 1930s.

The business survived the Great Depression and allowed them to build one of the few English Tudor style homes in the area.

“The current owner, Tim Larocco, already saved this house once when he bought and refurbished it,” Cannon-Miller said. “We want to honor that work by hopefully moving the house to another location and keep the story of dairies and agriculture alive at the historical society.”

All artifacts being excavated from the Anderson’s refuse pile will go to a lab for cleaning and analysis. 

Archaeologists will look for markers marks on bottles to give them a better sense of when the dairy was active, and how the people who lived and worked there went about their daily lives a century ago.


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