Thursday, September 3, 2015

PennDOT, Federal Highway Administration Seek Community Input on Human Remains

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) and Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) are seeking input from the community regarding the recently identified human remains discovered during the construction of the PA 61 Safety Improvement Project in Schuylkill Haven Borough and North Manheim Township, Schuylkill County.

PennDOT and the FHWA wish to hear from the community on the following options:

1. Leave the human remains in place and carefully rebury what has been exposed;
2. Respectfully excavate the exposed individuals and reinter at another formal cemetery or burial location;
3. Respectfully excavate the individuals, perform basic scientific analysis(osteological study, DNA, and disease/trauma profile), and reinter at a formal cemetery;
4. Other.
The remains are in the location of a cemetery associated with the former Schuylkill County Poor House, now known as Rest Haven Schuylkill County Home. In 1998, this cemetery property was sold and became private property.

Research suggests this area may have been used for the placement of individuals during the 1918 Spanish Influenza pandemic. Because the pandemic was sudden and devastating, many human remains were buried quickly and without reference.

In order to minimize potential adverse impacts to the human remains, comments should be submitted by September 18.

Please direct all comments to Kevin Mock, PennDOT archaeologist, at or 610-871-4460.

Information posted from PennDOT Press Release