LITCHFIELD — Central Maine Power Co. hired a New Hampshire firm to scout 430 miles of power line corridor during its billion-dollar upgrade to look for archaeologically relevant finds.

After excavating at 28 spots, 23 were eligible for the National Register of Historic Places, according to Ellen Marlatt of Independent Archaeological Consulting.

What they found on three long-gone farms here? Litchfield was big on butter in the 1880s.

“But they weren’t so much into cheese,” she said.

Finding three farms along the corridor, clustered in one town and all into dairying, prompted the first exhibit of artifacts from CMP’s Maine Power Reliability Program project. It debuts Tuesday at the History Center inside the Town Office with a talk by Marlatt.

Marlatt said her work began in 2008 and wrapped up last year, though she’ll continue to monitor the protected sites for five years. Her company focused on finds from 1790 to 1930; another company examined potential, earlier Native American sites.

The three local sites are known as the John Bolden Farmstead off Hardscrabble Road, dating between roughly 1810 and 1930; the William Goodwin Farmstead off Neck Road, dating between roughly 1822 and 1940; and the Benjamin True Farmstead off Beaver Drive, dating between roughly 1824 and 1890.

Her work involved looking at old maps, deeds and genealogy records as well as in the ground.

“These three sites each have a cellar hole or foundation stone, so it was readily obvious that there was a site there,” Marlatt said.

Excavations revealed pipe stems, marbles, tableware, milk pans and lead-glazed pottery. At True’s site, they found a bowl with a pattern called “Gentlemen’s Cabin,” men playing cards, that dated to the 1840s and suggested some wealth.

“We can tell how that farmstead functioned, how it was laid out, how the families discarded their ceramics, their dishes and their glassware,” Marlatt said. “What their life was like then.”

The corridor-long review was required by the National Historic Preservation Act. The identified sites haven’t been outfitted with markers; she said there’s a balance between wanting people to know about them and not wanting people to dig and disturb the areas.

Her talk will be at 7 p.m. Tuesday. The artifacts will be on display for some time before being turned over to the Historical Society of Litchfield.

According to the U.S. Agricultural Census, in 1880, Litchfield farms made 309 pounds of butter, which speaks to finding butter pots at the sites.

Interestingly, they didn’t sell much cheese, or later, milk, she said.

“It’s all part of our shared heritage,” Marlatt said. “You can learn things from looking at the archeology that you would not be able to find only in documents. Documents, often, only record what the person that wrote it down wants people to remember. It’s a way of looking at history or heritage that’s often forgotten because it had been literally discarded.”

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