Blog of the Pennsylvania State Historic Preservation Office

A Trip Through the PASS: The 2023 Annual PASS Report

Now that 2023 is officially in the PASS, let’s look back on another successful year of archaeological site recording and survey efforts throughout Pennsylvania.

PASS by Numbers

In 2023, 309 new archaeological sites were added to the PASS files, bringing the statewide total to 27,010 recorded sites. Sites were recorded through a variety of sources, summarized by the table below:

SourceSites Recorded%
University Research4012.95%
SHPO Managed Survey154.85%
PHMC Research144.53%

The majority of new sites were recorded through cultural resource management (CRM) projects, accounting for nearly 70% of all newly recorded sites. The second highest source for new site recordation came from university student thesis projects accounting for a total of 40 sites recorded throughout Cumberland, Indiana, and Westmoreland counties.

Just under 10% of sites were recorded through SHPO managed surveys and PHMC research projects. Rounding out our site counts for 2023, 25 sites were recorded by Society of Pennsylvania Archaeology (SPA) members, independent research projects, and members of the public.

Of the 67 counties in Pennsylvania, 52 had at least one newly recorded site. The top counties with the most sites recorded last year are as follows: Westmoreland, Indiana, Northampton, Lancaster, Allegheny, McKean, Butler, Northumberland, Columbia, Franklin, Mercer, and York.

Map of Pennsylvania with its counties outlined in black. Four different shades of blue are used to communicate the number of sites recorded in each county. A number in a circle is the exact number of sites recorded.

Map displaying the number of new sites recorded in each county in 2023.

The winner for most sites recorded in 2023 goes to (drumroll) Westmoreland County with 31 new sites! For more information on how many sites were recorded in each county last year, please see the PASS Report on the PHMC’s website.

2023 Highlights

This year’s PASS report contains contributions from four guest authors highlighting various projects that contributed to the PASS files. If historic sites, Paleoindian sites, and French and Indian War forts interest you, be sure to check out the full articles in the 2023 PASS Report. We greatly appreciate all our guest authors’ contributions!

Aerial view of archaeology dig with excavation squares, exposed stones, plywood borders, and people and tools.

Field school excavations in progress around one of the stone hearth foundations uncovered at Fort Halifax (36DA0008).

PA SHPO Survey Activities

In 2023, the PASS program continued to progress with survey initiatives from the previous year as well as make improvements to the systems used to capture and share archaeological site information.

PA-SHARE and Surveyor Updates

In early 2023, the PA SHPO began work on PA-SHARE 2.0- a large scale, multi-year effort to update and improve PA-SHARE and Surveyor. For a more detailed list of current updates to PA-SHARE, please see the PA-SHARE 2.0 Update blog post.

The most noteworthy upgrades for the PASS program are the changes to the archaeological resource pages. These changes stemmed from a desire to organize the information in a more cohesive way and present important details more prominently. For example, the Summary tab has been modified to present essential site details, like site type and chronology, near the top of the page.

This tab has also been streamlined to eliminate excessive scrolling and a new Associations tab has been added to consolidate information for associated resources, projects, surveys, and reports. The Details tab was also reconfigured to present the information more intuitively and help users locate information more efficiently.

Snapshot of PA-SHARE archaeological resource record.

Summary tab of an archaeological resource page showing new location of site type and chronology fields.

Updates to Surveyor are focused on the Surveyor Manager- the interface users rely on to manage their survey projects and team members, add resources, and interact with PA SHPO staff. The new updates will not be available until early 2024 but users can expect more robust resource recording with the availability of more fields and a notification system that allows users to track resource progression through Surveyor and into PA-SHARE.

Baseline Survey

Year 3 of baseline survey kicked off in 2023 resulting in the identification of 392 potential archaeological sites throughout 18 counties. Of these potential areas, 14 were determined to include adequate information to receive an official PASS number in 2023.

Areas that did not receive PASS numbers serve as opportunities for future archaeological research and investigations.  A full explanation of baseline survey and how archaeology is incorporated can be found here.

Large rock-lined opening in side of wooded hill.

Cold cellar associated with Lechauweki Springs Park (36LH0401) in Lehigh County, recorded as a result of baseline survey in 2023. The Lechauweki Springs summer resort operated between 1873 and 1891. The buildings were fully demolished in 1955 but a few structures remain including this cold cellar.

Survey of PHMC Properties

The goal of the PHMC properties survey initiative is to obtain up-to-date and consistent survey across all properties owned by the PHMC. During 2023, the initial plans for the archaeological phase of the survey effort were solidified and funding was secured to conduct an archaeological constraints analysis for approximately four properties.

The constraints analysis will gather available information on previously recorded archaeological surveys and sites on the property and assess the potential for the presence of both historic and Pre-Contact period archaeological resources. Execution of the archaeological phase of the PHMC properties survey is scheduled to begin in 2024.

The PASS program would like to thank all those that contributed to and supported our efforts this year! We looked forward to continuing a collaborative, informative, and engaging PASS program in 2024. For more information on site registration and survey, please contact Taylor Napoleon at

To learn more about site recording and survey initiatives in 2023, please check out the full 2023 PASS Report.

1 Comment

  1. Lynn Kintz

    I am looking for opportunities to participate in a dig in Cumberland, Perry, York, or Adams County. (I have experience from three seasons with a dig on Hatteras Island, N Carolina). Is there somewhere I could inquire, or a list I could access? Thank you

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