Fort McCoy News July 14, 2017

Archaeological tour provides look

at Fort McCoy's past

STORY & PHOTOS BY SCOTT T. STURKOL
Public Affairs Staff

More than 20 people from the general public participated in an archaeology tour June 27 to learn about the installation's efforts to document the recent and ancient past of Fort McCoy.

Heather Walder, Ph.D. and archaeologist with Colorado State University's (CSU) Center for Environmental Management of Military Lands under contract with Fort McCoy, shows tour participants an artifact June 27 at an active dig on South Post.
Heather Walder, Ph.D. and archaeologist with Colorado State
University's (CSU) Center for Environmental Management of Military
Lands under contract with Fort McCoy, shows tour participants an
artifact June 27 at an active dig on South Post.



Tour participants look at a archaeological dig area at the site during the tour.
Tour participants look at a archaeological dig area at the site during the
tour.



An example of an artifact shown to the group is this estimated 1,500-year-old piece of Native American pottery that was found at the site.
An example of an artifact shown to the group is this estimated 1,500-
year-old piece of Native American pottery that was found at the site.

The tour, which lasted approximately 2 1/2 hours, brought visitors of all ages. The group received a 40-minute presentation about archaeology at Fort McCoy from Alexander Woods, Ph.D., cultural-resource program manager and archaeologist with Colorado State University's (CSU) Center for Environmental Management of Military Lands under contract with Fort McCoy.

Woods highlighted several examples of artifacts found on post in the past 30-plus years, including an approximately 10,000-year-old arrowhead from the Paleo-Indian time period.

"The archaeological record is rich at Fort McCoy," Woods said. "Over the course of time that archaeological work has been done on post, we have found 521 archaeological sites."

One of the archaeological sites Woods discussed was site 47-MO848 on Fort McCoy's South Post. The site yielded some of the oldest known military artifacts found on the installation, which are from around 1910. This is an area that once was part of Camp Emory Upton.

Artifacts recovered during the 2013 Camp Emory Upton dig included a three-in-one oil bottle, glass bottle stoppers, key openers for food cans, a milk glass cold-cream jar, and a brass uniform insignia for the 28th Infantry Regiment. Several of those items are on display in the Fort McCoy History Center.

Following the presentation, the group then visited an active phase III archaeological dig on South Post. Nearly 20 people with Woods' archaeological team were excavating sites in several areas. Among the artifacts they saw was a pottery shard believed to be approximately 1,500 years old or older.

Woods and Heather Walder, Ph.D., also with Colorado State University, described the work and how important it has been in understanding the history of Fort McCoy and Southwest Wisconsin.

"Every discovery and (artifact) is a look back at something that hasn't been seen in a long time," Walder said to the group. "There has been a lot of work to learn a lot of important lessons."

David Beckmann with the Directorate of Public Works Environmental Division Natural Resources Branch assisted with the tour. He said the tour was an excellent opportunity to share some Fort McCoy history that people may have not heard about before.

"Everyone on the tour seemed very engaged and interested in what they were seeing," Beckmann said. "Having an event like this is very important because it gives people a chance to see what Fort McCoy looks like, and they also get to learn about how it is being cared for, especially since many people on the tour were from nearby local communities."

Woods reminded the group that any artifacts spotted while on Fort McCoy or other federal properties should be left alone. It is illegal to dig for or remove artifacts from federally owned land without permission.

For more information about archaeological digs at Fort McCoy, call the Natural Resources Branch at 608-388-4793.