The 13-acre Tanyard Archaeological Site, owned by The Old Clinton Historical Society (OCHS), contains the remains of a tannery and bark mill that operated in Clinton from about 1810 until its destruction by Union soldiers at the end of the Civil War. It is considered to be the best-preserved tanyard site in the Southeast.
In the 1820s, the tannery was the most prosperous business in Clinton. Hides were tanned there (using tannin extracted from ground bark) and leather goods were produced, particularly all manner of horse tack items from saddles to whips.
Though a few locals were aware of the tannery site, it was unknown to the larger world until 2001. That year, the Jones County Commission (JCC) obtained a Transportation Enhancement (TE) grant from the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) that included funds for sidewalks and historic signage in Clinton. Before work began in Clinton, the Commission hired archaeologists Daphne Owens and Daniel Battle (Cypress Cultural Consultants, LLC) to survey the 13-acre tract to determine locations for sidewalks and historical assets that should be preserved. This led to the archaeologists’ exciting discovery of the tanyard site.
In 2006, with funding from JCC and GDOT, Cypress Cultural Consultants, LLC conducted an Archaeological Survey of the tanyard. In 2016, JCC and GDOT commissioned The Jaeger Company to produce a Master Plan for site development. Click here for a short history of the tanyard project and summaries of the above reports.
With the Master Plan as a guide, OCHS intends to preserve this important historic site, develop it with interpretative signage and trails, and open it to the public for education and enjoyment. At present we’re stabilizing the site and clearing it of privet and other undesirable vegetation. We have many projects ahead of us, and we welcome Volunteers to help us develop this very interesting site!