Kris Holien

Kris Holien at a historic log cabin. Photo courtesy of Kris Holien.

I trace my life-time interest in history and past human activity back to my childhood, hearing stories about my great-great grandfather and his brother coming out to the Nebraska Territory from Ohio in the 1860’s to work as surveyors for the Union Pacific Railroad, and eventually settling there.  That interest developed during my first semester at CU when I took a course, “Principles of Anthropology”. For the next 4 years I continued to take as many anthropology and archaeology courses as I could, culminating with a B.A.  

After graduation, time passed and I became involved with my career at Rocky Mountain National Park. Then one day I heard about these short term Colorado archaeology classes being offered in Boulder, so I started attending.  My first PAAC class began 26 years ago in April 1991 at the Boulder Foothills Nature Center with instructor Kevin Black.  I was hooked again on the study of archaeology and prehistory!  Thus began my PAAC career, taking all courses (some twice!), attending PAAC labs, accompanying Kevin on numerous PAAC surveys throughout Colorado, and finally earning three PAAC certificates.  Along the way I have met, worked with and become friends with so many great people who enjoy the same experience of learning more about the past.  I’m looking forward to attending additional new PAAC classes with Chris Johnston.

I must have joined CAS and Indian Peaks Chapter at least by 1993 so I could participate as a member in that summer’s excavation project at Rock Creek in eastern Boulder County.  I remember the weather was hot and the ground was hard-baked, requiring a pick ax to make any progress moving dirt.  I learned that the wet screening station was the place to work on those days to cool off!  It was hard work but fun!  At Rock Creek I met Pete Gleichman and many other IPCAS folks who have remained friends ever since.

The other archaeology highlight that summer was the tremendous opportunity to work with Dr. Jim Benedict at the 4th of July Mine site in Indian Peaks Wilderness.  The project involved excavating charcoal stains (hearths) eroding right out of the trail, and talking with all the hikers who came by asking what we were doing.  My first dig partner was then a UNC grad student named Bonnie Pitblado, now Dr. Pitblado at the University of Oklahoma.  By now I’m firmly hooked on actually “doing” archaeology, not just reading about it!

Over the years I worked at Devils Thumb (Benedict), Caribou Lake (Pitbaldo), Magnolia Shelter (Dr. Bob Brunswig), Spotted Pony (Byron Olsen), Soapstone Prairie (Dr. Jason LaBelle), PIT project at Old Roach Tie Hack Camp (Dr. Nicole Branton), Alonzo Allen Cabin (Brunswig), and Blackfoot Cave (Neil Hauser).  Most recent activities have included Champagne Spring and Mitchell Springs with Dave Dove and CAS.

My service on the IPCAS Board dates back to 1995 with several years as Secretary and several years sharing Co-Presidency with Cheryl Damon.  I’ve also volunteered with State CAS for 2 years as Vice President and 3 years as Recording Secretary.  Attending many CAS Quarterly meetings and Annual meetings over the years has allowed me to meet and learn from the most amazing avocational and professional archaeologists throughout Colorado.