ARIZONA As Muller talks, an audience listens intently, recording each detail that breathes life into the past of one of Phoenix's oldest neighborhoods. The conversation is history in the making, really. It is part of a documentary project on an area that dates back to 1887, an area that formed one of the cores of Phoenix's early Hispanic community, an area that's in danger of disappearing altogether. "The story of a community is its history, not just what you see now. This will present the history of a community that's often been overlooked over time," says Jean Reynolds, a historian working on the project. The history project is a collaboration with the Phoenix Public Library, the Phoenix Revitalization Corp., the Arizona Humanities Council and Phoenix's Historic Preservation Office. Some cities are considering smaller preservation districts. Krauss said Goodyear included an agriculture preservation district designation in its new general plan, but so far it hasn't used the zone.

CALIFORNIA "The monument outside says 1874, but the town wasn't created until the train came through in 1876," curator Norma Gurba said, referring to the Southern Pacific Railroad that ran through the Antelope Valley, connecting Los Angeles with the San Joaquin Valley.

CYBERIA A 43-year-old Pittsburgh history mystery could be solved this summer when the B-25 Recovery Group begins to search for the World War II bomber that took a fatal dive into the Monongahela River on Jan. 31, 1956.

SHARECROPPER HOMES FOCUS OF ARCHAECOLOGICAL RESEARCH 07/08/99 CENTERVILLE, La. (AP) Six miles south of here on a curve of the Intracoastal Waterway, archaeologists sift through mounds of dirt for pieces of life that will tell the story of North Bend Plantation's turn-of-the-century tenant farmers. The dig is focused on the remnants of several homes where sharecroppers lived during Reconstruction following the Civil War and the first part of this century. "A lot of people are interested in the antebellum period, but there has not been a lot of research done on plantation life during the Reconstruction," said Kenneth Ashworth, an archaeologist for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. "This information will help us fill in the gaps in the historic record. Very often, history doesn't tell us how the ordinary person lived. This site will tell us how tenants and sharecroppers lived in the 1870s, 80s and 90s." The dig is part of the preliminary work for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' East West Bayou Sale Tie-In Levee project, which will place a levee on the banks of the waterway. The project, which will allow the waterway to hold overflow from the Wax Lake Outlet, will serve as a "safety valve" for the Morgan City area, said John Hall of the corps. Under the National Historic Preservation Act, the corps is obligated to search potential project areas for significant sites, Ashworth explained. "If we find a site, and it's at all possible, we try to redesign the project to avoid it," Ashworth said. "If we can't avoid it, we try to mitigate the loss by doing an excavation." Earth Search Inc. is conducting the excavation at North Bend, and to date has uncovered the sites of four homes that were part of the "quarters" area of the sugar cane plantation following the Civil War. There was a line of homes that stretched across what is now the Intracoastal Waterway, said Jill-Karen Yakubik of Earth Search. The site is quite a find, because it sheds light on little-studied period of history. "We don't have real good records on African-American life in this time period," Yakubik said. "The good thing about archaeology is, it gives you concrete, unbiased information about the way people lived." The bits of debris the archaeologists unearth can tell the story of a person's lifestyle, Yakubik said. Among artifacts found at North Bend are teeth from cows, pigs and raccoons _ which tells of the peoples' diets _ and buttons, pottery shards and glass. The ceramic pieces, which had labels showing origins in England, the Soviet Union and Japan, give an idea of the date of the site, said archaeologist Cheri Gabel, also of Earth Search. There also were pieces of "Bakelite," a precursor of plastic _ a coin for the company store and a fragment of a hair comb. The coin, stamped "SM Swenson, North Bend Plantation," also was marked "half watch," which may indicate its value at the store, Yakubik said. "We don't know what it means yet," she said. They also found a piece of a chamber pot lid. Some of the more unexpected finds include rosary beads and a porcelain king cake doll. One site is yielding more information on another period, Gabel said. "We're finding prehistoric stuff all over here," she said, indicating a site on the other side of an inlet that houses a couple of suspicious alligators. "It wasn't expected. We're finding a lot more prehistoric stuff than we expected." So far, the prehistoric artifacts consist of some pot shards, some plain and some decorated, Gabel said. Archaeologists are screening dirt near that site, on the banks of the inlet where a mother alligator and a juvenile sun themselves occasionally. "They just kind of hang out near the band and eyeball us," Gabel said. The dirt is excavated out of the site in five-centimeter layers, then poured over a wooden frame lined with fine screen. The archaeologists take turns digging up dirt and rubbing it through the screens, she said. Items as small and as delicate as a fish bone can be found through the screening technique, Gabel said. Even the smallest bits of bone or pottery can yield information that historians can use, Ashworth said. "That's what makes this site important," Ashworth said. "The information."