The Field School at Fort Astoria
August 07, 2012
After our 2012 Public Archaeology Field School wrapped up excavations at Fort Vancouver on July 27th, they moved out to Astoria, Oregon, to excavate in three city properties that were once important sites in 19th-century fur trade history: Fort Astoria, Tidal Rock, and the site of Astoria's first post office.
The first site was the former location of Fort Astoria, also known as Fort George. Fort Astoria was founded by the American-owned Pacific Fur Company in 1811, and became a focal point of British and American hostilities during the War of 1812. In 1813, the Pacific Fur Company decided to sell the fort to the British North West Company, which renamed the site "Fort George." After the North West Company merged with the Hudson's Bay Company in 1821, the HBC conducted operations at the fort until the mid-1840s.
The site is now the location of a public park and the Fort George Brewery and Public House. Archaeological excavations have never been conducted here, and the opportunity to work on this site was particularly exciting for our field school students. The crew found a number of 19th and 20th century artifacts, including some artifacts with significant ties to the fur trade period, like a fragment of a falconry bell, Spode ceramics, Chinese exportware porcelain, and glass beads.
Students begin subsurface survey work at Fort Astoria/Fort George and explain their work to visiting members of the public.
Our Field School students excavate Test Unit 2 at Fort Astoria Park.
This Ford Stepney pipe bowl fragment is similar to those discovered by archaeologists at Fort Vancouver, including one discovered this summer in the Village
Another site excavated by the field school was a city property known as "Tidal Rock." This area, located in Astoria at the corner of 15th and Commercial streets, was once the location of Astoria's original shoreline.
Excavating at Tidal Rock.