Cadwalader Park was created by the city of Trenton in 1888 from land previously owned by Dr.Thomas Cadwalader. In 1890, Frederick Law Olmstead (best known for designing New York City’s Central Park) was hired to create a design for Trenton’s new park.
Prior to Olmstead’s involvement, the city had already started displaying animals in a “zoological garden.” After Trenton dropped Olmstead’s firm for financial reasons, the city added a deer paddock–which Olmstead opposed–on the west side of the park. Olmstead had other plans for that area, called the Western Ravine:
In the broader wooded valley at the west end of the park, Olmsted planned a series of pools that was reminiscent of the Pool and Loch of upper Central Park…The Preliminary Plan of 1891 shows most of the Ravine taken up by five naturalistic pools…with a connecting stream. The three lower pools are shown surrounded with dense vegetation, while the borders of the two upper pools are somewhat more open and more visible from the adjoining meadow areas. These upper pools have four beach areas where the nearby path expands to form a shallow wading area.
Cadwalader Park Master Plan, 1998
Much of Olmstead’s plan was not constructed, and many modifications to the design were made the city. A deer paddock was built in 1895, and a sheep house and elk house were also added. By 1906, the park zoo included not only nine fallow deer, but over a dozen other types of animals, including coyotes, alligators, bears, monkeys, and a kangaroo. Two animal barns were added in the western ravine, which are still standing.
The park declined in the 1970s (although the city’s museum, Ellarslie, was created in 1978 in the former monkey house). Deer were kept in the paddock until about ten years ago. As part of a master plan to restore Cadwalader Park, The D&R Greenway Land Trust, the City of Trenton, and several other partners united to restore the paddock area to a more natural meadow and wetland environment. Where once captive deer lived behind a fence, white-tailed deer now run wild.
Based on ethnohistoric research, Harold Hickerson argued that deer were more abundant in the buffer zone between the territories of two warring tribes (Sioux and Chippewa) in the Upper Midwest than in either tribe’s home territory. Hunters were wary of entering the buffer zone (but did not completely avoid them) because of the risk of running into their enemies. Once conflict between the two tribes ended, deer hunting resumed in the buffer zone, leading to a decrease in deer populations.
1965 The Virginia Deer and Intertribal Buffer Zones in the Upper Mississippi Valley. In Man, Cultures, and Animals: The Role of Animals in Human Ecological Adjustments, edited by Anthony Leeds and Andrew P. Vayda, pp. 43–65. Publication No. 78. American Association for the Advancement of Science, Washington, D.C.
A more recent series of articles debated whether the buffer zone concept applied to Native Americans and animal populations in the western United States encountered by Lewis and Clark in the early 1800s. Click on the links for pdfs of these articles.
The average white-tailed deer killed during the Late Archaic at Lamoka Lake weighed 77 kg, or 170 pounds.
That’s the estimate derived from measuring the astragalus, a bone in the lower leg of white-tailed deer. By the Late Woodland to Protohistoric Period in New York, deer found at the Engelbert Site averaged 64.5 kg, or 142 pounds.
How big was the largest identified deer at Lamoka Lake? Over 155 kg, or 342 pounds.
To learn how these weight estimates were derived, and learn more about deer body size, get the paper:
A recent study of bones from an early historic Iroquois site includes a comparison with the much earlier animal bones from the Lamoka Lake site as well as some interesting passenger pigeon finds.
Adam Watson and Stephen Cox Thomas studied animal bones from the early 18th century Townley-Read site in the Finger Lakes region of New York State. The Seneca who lived at the site may have hunted deer year-round. Deer hides, as well as furs from other animals, would have been traded with European colonists. The detailed taphonomic analysis also indicates that deer bones were likely processed to extract the fat-rich grease from the spongy portions of the bones. This is usually considered to be evidence of nutritional stress, but they make the case that processing for bone grease was “a planned accumulation of resources rather than an ad hoc response to seasonal food shortfalls.” (p. 115)
Also of interest is the identification of passenger pigeon bones from one feature at the site. Passenger pigeon, of course, tends to be present at prehistoric archaeological sites in the region with good bone preservation, but in this case, four of the bones are from immature pigeons, providing good evidence specifically for the procurement of squabs in the springtime.
A small number of American eel bones, in contrast, are more likely to indicate fishing in the fall, when eels are heading downstream to spawn.
As a whole, the assemblage has some interesting differences from both earlier and later archaeological sites in New York. The authors provide a detailed and well-researched analysis of the animal bones from this Iroquois site to make the point that “the evidence for economic resilience and stability at Townley-Read contradicts a narrative of pervasive and unimpeded decline, and reinforces the importance of continuing to build and test empirical models grounded in both local and regional archaeological and historical data.” (p. 115)
In 1950, the Rochester Museum of Arts and Sciences donated several modified bone and antler artifacts from the Lamoka Lake Site to the Smithsonian Institution. One of them was the artifact above (Accession No. A397991), made from a white-tailed deer or possibly elk (wapiti) antler.
William Ritchie, in his 1932 report, considered this and other artifacts like it as possible pendants, amulets, or tally sticks. They may also have had a more practical use. Some antler artifacts from the site were also decorated with red ochre stripes. To my knowledge, these artifacts have not been studied by anyone else since the original analysis by Ritchie in the 1920s.