The Entrega gas pipeline project will bring more than an influx of workers to Moffat County. Crews digging trenches for the pipeline this fall may also stumble across artifacts from the region's first inhabitants.
Many of those artifacts will end up at the Museum of Northwest Colorado in Craig and Entrega gave the museum a $10,000 check Friday for new construction and a possible exhibit for any artifacts found during the pipeline project.
"This is certainly the biggest gift we've ever gotten," Museum Director Dan Davidson said. The museum has received grants for more than $10,000 in the past, but this is the biggest gift.
Phil Sanders of Entrega gave Davidson the check Friday morning.
Davidson expects to triple the gift's value quickly with matching grants and a matching gift from El Paso Gas, who is also building a gas pipeline through Moffat County.
The money will be used to renovate the museum's back room for storage and office space. The room doesn't have any air conditioning or climate controls, which are crucial to storing historic artifacts, Davidson said.
Archaeologist Jason Eckman will be on hand during the pipeline project, helping to identify and preserve artifacts. Crews will be instructed to tell him about anything they find.
Eckman specializes in pipeline excavations. He said Friday the most interesting artifact he's ever found during a pipeline project was a 6,000-year-old house structure in Wyoming.
He expects to find a lot of fire pits during the Entrega project in Moffat County.
Artifacts found on private land are the property of the landowner, but artifacts on public land will be sent to the museum. Sanders hopes artifacts from private land end up at the museum also.
"We're hoping that a lot of private landowners will choose to donate any (artifacts) found on their property to the museum also," Sanders said.
Finding artifacts could slow the project down briefly, but Sanders said it won't be a problem.
"If it slows us down, so be it," Sanders said.
In many cases, Sanders said, crews can work around findings without losing much time.
Brandon Johansson can be reached at 824-7031 or firstname.lastname@example.org.