BRADENTON, Fla. — Before construction begins on plans to extend the Bradenton Riverwalk east, an archaeologist will be sifting through the grounds at Manatee Mineral Springs Park.

  • Excavation effort to locate artifacts related to area's first settlers
  • Numerous artifacts found during smaller dig a decade ago
  • More Manatee County stories

Last week, the City of Bradenton agreed to put forward $100,000 to fund the excavation project. Reflections of Manatee, a local preservation group, will be heading up the effort.

“This will be the last chance,” said Sherry Svekis, a board member with Reflections of Manatee.

An archaeologist will be digging through the grounds to help locate artifacts related to Bradenton’s first settlers, the Angola Freedom Seekers, and Native Americans who were all known to live by the mineral spring in the 1700s.

Roughly a decade ago, a smaller dig was performed in part of the park and numerous artifacts were located.

“We definitely know more is here because every group of people who ever lived along this river used the Manatee Mineral Spring,” Svekis said.

Once the excavation is completed in late January, the city plans to move forward with extending the Bradenton Riverwalk farther east. While plans have not been finalized, they include adding large paved walkways, covered seats, a play area, dock, and patios.

Under the current plan, the Riverwalk will end by Manatee Mineral Springs Park and the park will be receiving a whole new look.

“You'll be able to go from there all the way to downtown and be able to enjoy green space and then come downtown to dine,” said Bill Sanders, Bradenton City Commissioner.

The excavation project at Manatee Mineral Springs Park will take a couple of weeks. Then the artifacts that are discovered will be taken to New College of Florida for processing.