Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Historical Archaeology

First Advisor

Stephen A. Mrozowski

Second Advisor

David B. Landon

Third Advisor

Christa Beranek


The Metropolitan Railroad Company Site in Roxbury (Boston), Massachusetts, was first excavated in the late 1970s by staff of the Museum of Afro American History. Researchers recovered nearly 20,000 artifacts related to the site's life as a horsecar street railway station and carriage manufacturer from 1860 to 1891, its subsequent conversion into an electric street railway until around 1920, and finally its modern use as an automobile garage. Using the framework of behavioral archaeology, this project uses GIS-based spatial methods and newly collected documentary evidence to reexamine the site's assemblage of horse accoutrements and carriage manufacturing byproducts. Artifact distribution maps overlaid on detailed historic maps reveal that carriage manufacturing ceased concurrent with street railway electrification, but horse harness craftsmanship continued on to serve in new capacities, highlighting nuances in the narrative of technological change onsite and connecting the life histories of materials to historical actors involved with these transitions.