An Archeological Survey of Development Projects Within Grand Portage National Monument, Cook County, Minnesota
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Chapter 1

Grand Portage National Monument (GRPO) is one of the most remote and scenic National Park Service (NPS) properties in the Midwest Region. Located on the shore of Lake Superior, in the extreme northeast corner of Minnesota, the Monument lies less than 5 mi from the Canadian border (Figure 1). First established as a National Historic Site in 1951, Grand Portage was designated a National Monument in 1960. Necessary land transfers from the Grand Portage Indian Reservation, administered by the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), however, were not completed until 1962.

Figure 1. Location of Grand Portage National Monument.

The primary focal point of Grand Portage National Monument is a reconstructed fur trading post (Figures 2 and 3), the original depot having been the eighteenth-century headquarters for inland operations of the influential North West Company. The 710-acre Monument, however, comprises three major segments: the reconstructed depot on Lake Superior's shore, the 13.6-km (8.5-mi) Grand Portage leading up from the lake to navigable waters of the Pigeon River, and the site of Fort Charlotte at the interior terminus of the portage path. The interpretive mission of the Monument emphasizes events and personages of the Fur Trade era during the years 1731-1802. Nevertheless, the fur trade was but one phase, albeit important, in the long and varied history of this region.

Figure 2. View of reconstructed depot at Grand Portage from northeast.

Figure 3. The Great Hall inside depot.

Several proposed development projects within Grand Portage National Monument were scheduled to be initiated during Fiscal Year 1988, at least at the planning stage. Four of those projects will involve ground disturbance. Therefore, an archeological team from the NPS's Midwest Archeological Center (MWAC) visited the Monument from July 24 through August 2, 1988, to investigate potential impacts of the various initiatives.

As part of the General Management Plan, construction of a visitor/administration center and maintenance facility is proposed for the Monument. Accordingly, land parcels identified as possible construction sites required archeological survey to determine whether any cultural resources might be present in those areas. Elsewhere in the Monument, efforts to stabilize the Lake Superior shoreline will be continued east of the reconstructed trading post.

In addition, the archeologists examined two minor project areas that would be subject to excavation. The first was an overflow parking lot north of the reconstructed depot at Grand Portage, where a new gate was to be installed. The second was the alignment of a trench that would be needed for burial of utilities associated with a new security system for the reconstructed canoe warehouse. That line would run from inside the depot to the warehouse, which lies a short distance outside the western stockade wall.

This report presents the methods and results of those investigations carried out in conjunction with the above-mentioned development projects. Appropriate background information on the Grand Portage region is also provided. The report concludes with management recommendations for the cultural resources located during this survey. Appendix A describes the single archeological site that was discovered, and Appendix B provides an inventory of materials collected.

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Last Updated: 15-Jul-2009