I-10 Mobile River Bridge Archaeology Project

One of the Center’s current major projects is the I-10 Mobile River Bridge (MRB) Archaeology Project. This project investigates and promotes the archaeology and history of the I-10 Bridge area. From November 2021 to June 2023, our team excavated 15 sites in the right of way for the proposed I-10 Mobile Bridge and Bayway project. Research from this project is ongoing as we continue to process artifacts and analyze results from the excavations.

These 15 sites span the entire history of Mobile Bay. Archaeological evidence ranges from 2,000-year-old Native American pottery to 18th century colonial occupations, and continues up to the 1960s, when I-10 was constructed. Most of our sites are part of the Down the Bay neighborhood and can tell us about turn of the century life in Mobile.

Emily Warner, right, with the USA Center for Archaeological Studies, and Thomas Grace, with Wiregrass Archaeological Consulting, bisect a feature in the soil at a site that is along the route for a proposed Mobile Bay bridge.
Erin Lister, a South anthropology student, transfers soil excavated from a colonial feature into a water screen for processing.
Alisha Palmer, a senior majoring in anthropology, and Dr. Phil Carr, professor of anthropology and the Chief Calvin McGhee Endowed Professor of Native American Studies, catalog artifacts brought in from the Mobile Bay bridge site in a lab at the USA Center for Archaeology Studies.

Down the Bay Oral History Project

As part of the I-10 MRB Archaeology Project, the McCall Library Oral History Team is recording stories about the Down the Bay community to create a public archive of the histories that aren’t written. If you have memories of Down the Bay, we want to add them to our archives. For more information, or to schedule an interview, call 251-341-3900 or email oralhistory@southalabama.edu.

Oral history recordings and transcripts, as well as photos and other related documents, will be made publicly available at the McCall Library Archives on the University of South Alabama campus. The oral history project is a partnership between the McCall Library, the African American Studies Program and the Center for Archaeological Studies.

Check out our project newsletter for updates and information.

Learn about Mobile Bay History

We’re sharing our work for the I-10 MRB Archaeology Project through educational resources, exhibits, lectures, and other events. Follow the project blog, the CAS Facebook and Instagram accounts and the Archaeology Museum’s YouTube Channel for updates, highlights, and ways to get involved! We also offer presentations and would be happy to present to community groups or at events. To request a speaker, or for more information, email the project’s Public Outreach Coordinator Rachel Hines at rhines@southalabama.edu.

Project Partners

The I-10 MRB Archaeology project is interdisciplinary and includes artists, educators, geographers, geologists, historians, oral historians, and others. Archaeologists from the Center for Archaeological Studies and Wiregrass Archaeological Consulting excavated the 15 sites in the field and continue to analyze artifacts in the lab. Our historical researchers are providing insights into past lifeways through maps, city directories, census data, and other documents. Oral historians from the Doy Leale McCall Rare Book and Manuscript Library are conducting interviews with community members from Down the Bay to understand the recent history of the neighborhood.

The I-10 Mobile River Bridge and Bayway project is conducted by the Alabama Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration in cooperation with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Coast Guard. The project also involves input from Native American Tribes, the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, the Alabama Historical Commission, and local governments and historical organizations.