Archeological efforts carried out in conjunction with the installation of a new site drainage system within the Grand Portage Depot took place in two phases. The initial two-week phase, scheduled prior to construction, sought to determine the potential damage that might be caused to cultural resources by the proposed development. The second phase of investigations entailed monitoring actual installation of the drainage system a few weeks later.
A particular archeological concern was the possibility that the drainage alignment might pass through the remains of a fur trade era structure discovered and partially excavated in 1936. No evidence of that feature was found during the first phase of investigations, however, nor were any remains encountered at its presumed location during subsequent trenching for the drain. The location did yield evidence of the circa 1920s Samuel Crawford fox farm, though such data are of limited utility. Excavations carried out elsewhere within the Depot in 1989 similarly encountered no deposits that could be considered archeologically significant. Accordingly, it appears that the drainage system development resulted in no substantial damage to the cultural resource base at Grand Portage.
Despite the fact that no significant archeological remains were brought to light during our 1989 investigations at the Grand Portage Depot, the research should not be viewed as a fruitless effort. To the contrary, it means that the development planning process was successful. The exchange of ideas and discussion of concerns among regional and field personnel resulted in the "least cost" solution that ultimately was implemented at Grand Portage. Preconstruction archeological investigations supported the designed drain location, and subsequent monitoring of the installation confirmed the absence of significant cultural resources within the alignment. Therefore, the project review procedure worked, and the preservation ethic was served.
It should be noted, in conclusion, that the site of the Grand Portage Depot remains a rich archeological resource. Although much of the site has been disturbed by later nineteenth- and twentieth-century activities, including archeological investigations, many areas of the Depot still harbor intact cultural deposits from the fur trade era. Thus, planners of future developments here, and elsewhere in the Monument, should continue to be mindful of the possible effects their actions might have upon the cultural resource base at Grand Portage.
Last Updated: 15-Jul-2009