A Historical and Archaeological Analysis of the Middle Island Life-Saving Station: Applying Site Formation Theory to Coastal Maritime Infrastructure Sites.
(Under the direction of Dr. Bradley Rodgers) Department of History, November 2007.
The purpose of this thesis is to take site formation theory, as defined by Muckelroy, Stewart, Schiffer, and Gibbs, and apply it to coastal maritime infrastructure sites in the Great Lakes. Although coastal maritime infrastructure sites played an integral role in maritime history, they are rarely studied archaeologically and there has been little done to understand the formation processes at work on them. This thesis is designed to make sense of these formation processes, via detailed historical and archaeological analysis of the Middle Island Life-Saving Station. Fortunately, the historical and archaeological data for Middle Island proved extensive, and many of the processes that led to the site's condition at the time of investigation were able to be readily identified. Despite the extensive historical and archaeological investigation, several substantial structural features were not expressed in the archaeological assemblage and only came to be understood upon the surfacing of additional historical data post-investigation. Determining how coastal infrastructure sites, such as the Middle Island Life-Saving Station, fit into the currently accepted theories of site formation will help future researchers identify similar sites that may lack such extensive historical and archaeological records and, therefore, to develop a broader understanding of this site type prior to field work.