Joe Liles caught a glimpse of history in 2005, only to see it vanish under a week's worth of rain.
Now a new round of drought has given the Durham teacher, students and archaeologists another chance to explore a lost world on the bottom of Falls Lake.
Liles teaches art at the School of Science and Math. He's always on the lookout for projects that bring his students out of the classroom, and that's how they ended up helping to trace an old road that dated to colonial times in 2003.
The road dropped off into the lake basin and that seemed to be the end of it, until drought lowered the water a couple of years later. Liles saw what appeared to be the foundations of buildings from the lost village of Fish Dam. But just as state archaeologists prepared for a dig, the rain came.
This summer's drought has provided a new opportunity, and Liles and his students have wasted no time. They spent the past week helping state and federal scientists grub through the lake bed, unearthing an array of artifacts that date back hundreds of years.