Exploring Fort Vancouver National Historic Site:
The Public Archaeology Field School at Fort Vancouver National Historic Site
Tuesday - Saturday, June 17 - August 2, 2014
This summer, Portland State University, Washington State University Vancouver, and the National Park Service will be conducting a field school in historical archaeology at Fort Vancouver National Historic Site. Students in the field school will work with Park Service archaeologists to conduct archaeological excavations throughout the park.
This summer, students will be primarily working in two areas. Teams of student archaeologists will be working in the area to the west of the fort that was once the site of the Hudson's Bay Company Village. This area was a densely populated and ethnically diverse neighborhood made up of employees of Fort Vancouver. Excavations will focus on the sites of two Village houses: the house of Little Proulx, a French-Canadian fur trader, and the house of William Kaulehelehe, a Hawaiian educator who served the fort's Hawaiian population. Later, this area was the site of the U.S. Army's Quartermaster's Depot, part of the World War I Spruce Mill, which cut aviation-grade spruce for America's war effort, and a barracks and training compound for the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC).
Another team of students will be working on the Vancouver Barracks Parade Ground, excavating the site of the historic post's flag staff. A recent study by Dr. Doug Wilson, National Park Service Archaeologist and Adjunct Associate Professor at Portland State University, and Dr. Elizabeth Horton, a National Park Service Archaeologist who recently completed her doctoral dissertation on the historical archaeology of the soldiers and their families at Vancouver Barracks, has identified the location of the 1854-1879 flag staff, which will be the subject of this year's explorations. "The colors, or flag, that flew from the post's flag staff was a tangible object that served as a visual reminder of the common group identity of the soldiers on the post," said Horton. "It was a highly significant and symbolic location for the post. All of the early U.S. maps of the post and region measured from the flag staff."
From 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM Tuesday through Saturday, June 24-August 2, both dig sites will be accessible to the public. Members of the public are invited to visit the dig sites and talk with archaeologists and students about this year's finds. "We are pleased that the Public Archaeology Field School will provide the public with a chance to see our citizen scientists conducting research on the many layers of Fort Vancouver. We hope that this year's work will help in the restoration of the post flag staff, which is an icon of Fort Vancouver and the Barracks," said Tracy Fortmann, Superintendent of Fort Vancouver National Historic Site. "This is the first step in restoring the flag staff. We hope that someday a garrison flag might be flown at special times as it would have flown proudly in the past."
Directions to both sites can be found at the Ranger Station inside Fort Vancouver, or in the park's Visitor Center.