Field Work

Portland State University and Washington State University-Vancouver 2004 Field School on the HBC Powder Magazine

In partnership with Portland State University and Washington State University, Vancouver, the National Park Service led a seven-week archaeological field school from June 15th through July 31st, 2004. The field school conducted work at the Fort Vancouver Powder Magazine, a crucial part of the Hudson’s Bay Company headquarters and supply depot, and its only brick structure. The Spring 1844 inventory lists over 14,000 Lbs. (6.35 metric tons) of powder in 158 barrels and kegs. The Powder Magazine was essential to secure these large amounts of powder prior to their dissemination to the subsidiary forts, the fur brigades, and through sales to employees, missionaries, Native Americans, and American settlers. Historical accounts first note the presence of a Powder Magazine at Fort Vancouver in 1832. Students excavated samples from the Powder Magazine to improve our understanding of the architecture and use-history of this important site. A survey portion of the project examined areas outside of the stockade.

Archaeological Survey of the Western Portion of Vancouver Barracks (including the site of the St. James Mission), Portland State University and Washington State University-Vancouver 2003 Field School on the Company "Kanaka" Village

In partnership with Portland State University and Washington State University, Vancouver, the National Park Service led a seven-week archaeological field school in 2003. The excavations were designed to recover architectural and human behavioral data to assist in the reconstruction and interpretation of household structures within the Hudson's Bay Company Village, to gather additional data about the use history of the site to compare with other archaeological materials previously collected at Fort Vancouver. Three structures excavated in the 1960s by archaeologists Susan Kardas and Edward Larrabee were located and further excavated, in addition to the continuation of the excavation of a dwelling located and excavated in the 2001-2002 field school seasons. The field school also included enhanced archaeological survey of the Village site, and survey and testing in the southern portion of Pearson Airfield.

Enhanced Archaeological Survey of the Company "Kanaka" Village

The project allows the park to survey and test selected areas of the 1829-1860 Hudson's Bay Company "Kanaka" Village site and surrounding areas. The Village was the largest multicultural settlement in the Pacific Northwest in the 1830s and 1840s, housing the diverse craftspeople, agricultural laborers, and fur trappers that served the immense fur-trading empire of the HBC's Columbia Department. The purpose of the project is to gain more precise information about the physical dimensions of the site and the diverse communities that occupied it for the purposes of: 1) confirming historic accounts and maps of the site recorded in the Fort Vancouver base maps; and 2) supporting enhanced interpretive programs, including new visitor access to the site, educational outreach, and website visitation.

The Park hosted the 2002 NPS workshop "Recent Archaeological Prospection Advances for Non-Destructive Investigations in the 21st Century", which has added remote sensing studies (e.g., aerial photography, magnetometry, electromagnetic conductivity, ground penetrating radar, and electrical resistivity) for the Kanaka Village area, which are being incorporated into the summary report.

Parade Ground Irrigation Data Recovery and Monitoring

As part of the planning for an irrigation system, data recovery of a portion of the Parade Ground of Fort Vancouver National Historic Site was conducted. The installation of the irrigation system was monitored and significant historical archaeological deposits were identified and documented.

Hudson's Bay Company Cemetery Remote Sensing Projects

Two remote sensing projects for the Hudson's Bay Company Cemetery were conducted. This project's goals were to assist in the identification of individual grave sites and areas of disturbance to the historic cemetery, which is located within the Vancouver Barracks portion of the Vancouver National Historic Reserve and is managed by the U.S. Army Reserve.

Archaeological Monitoring of the Reconstruction of Agricultural Field Fences east of the Stockade

This project monitored excavations associated with emplacement of new fencelines east of the stockade in the location of the former 1960s Pearson hangers. This project supported the restoration of the cultural landscape around Fort Vancouver.

Pearson Master Plan Archaeological Survey and Monitoring

NPS archaeologists led a survey of an additional area of potential effects associated with the Pearson Field master plan project. This area was around the edges of the Pearson Field taxiway within the boundaries of Fort Vancouver National Historic Site and was associated with the installation of taxiway lighting. Areas of disturbance associated with the construction elements of the masterplan project were monitored.

Portland State University's 2002 Archaeological Field School at the Vancouver National Historic Reserve and Fort Clatsop

In partnership with Portland State University's Department of Anthropology, the National Park Service led a seven-week archaeological field school. The excavations were designed to recover architectural and human behavioral data to assist in the reconstruction and interpretation of household structures within the Hudson's Bay Company Village, to gather additional data about the use history of the site to compare with other archaeological materials previously collected at Fort Vancouver, and to test two 19th century historical house sites at Fort Clatsop. A pedestrian survey portion of the field school taught field recording principles at Marine Park, which forms a portion of the Vancouver National Historic Reserve managed by the City of Vancouver. Approximately 22,000 artifacts were recovered from the Village and about 7,000 from Fort Clatsop.

Archaeology of the U.S. Army Parade Ground

An archaeological investigation was undertaken in response to a proposed irrigation system on the historic U.S. Army Parade Ground of Fort Vancouver National Historic Site. The associated report completes the first comprehensive archaeological investigation of the parade ground at Vancouver Barracks. The area of the current parade ground was historically part of the post proper, and the site of its earliest (ca. 1849) structures.

The parade ground was examined through test and data recovery excavations, magnetic survey, and cartographic analysis. All three demonstrate that significant cultural resources and surviving landscape features exist in this area. The western and eastern ends of the parade ground each contain artifacts from the earliest years of the post, specifically beginning with the Army's arrival and initial construction activities in 1849-1850. Excavations in these portions yielded a typical mid- to late-19th century military assemblage, from intact strata, suggesting social and domestic activities as well as construction and demolition of structures. Artifacts from the southern parade ground area reflect relatively later dates of activity, as barracks were built throughout this section around the turn of the century. Most of the subsurface resources here are architectural in nature.

Last updated: February 28, 2015

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