Texas Drought Unearths Long-Lost Slave Cemetery

Texas drought is helping archaeologists unearth a historic cemetery.

ByABC News
August 4, 2011, 2:36 PM

Aug. 4, 2011 — -- One of the worst droughts in Texas history is helping archaeologists unearth a small piece of American history, a graveyard for freed slaves.

While the heat may be taking a toll on crops, livestock and people's livelihoods, it has helped archaeologists uncover two graves that are believed to have been buried for more than a century.

"This grave was actually uncovered by erosion from the water. It was several feet deep years and years ago," Sgt. Hank Bailey of the Navarro County Sheriff's Office told ABC News Dallas-Fort Worth affiliate WFAA-TV.

Cemeteries were marked and moved before the Richland Chambers Reservoir in Navarro County, Texas, was filled in the 1980s, but this small cemetery without tombstones went unnoticed.

Human remains were initially discovered in 2009 by boaters when the water level was low, but the water rose quickly and archaeologists and historians have been waiting ever since for the reservoir to reveal the cemetery again.

"It's not one of the great finds of history, but it's important to us on a local level." Bruce McManus, chairman of the Navarro County Historical Commission, told WFAA-TV. "It's one of the lost cemeteries we've been looking for."

The remains that have been found will be reburied elsewhere. For now, investigators are keeping the cemetery's location a secret because they are afraid of looters.

The record heat is not only adding to the local history books, but also to the stress placed on energy providers. The electrical grid is under so much stress that companies are bringing old power stations back to life.

"We are setting all-time peak records three days in a row," said Luminant spokesman, Scott Diermann. "We've never had that happen before."

Texas is not alone. Four of the eight largest power grid operators in the U.S. and Canada have set all-time records over the last two weeks.

In Dallas, the heat is supposed to keep on coming. Forecasters predict Dallas will see triple-digit temperatures for at least another week.