1988 Archeological Investigations at Fort Union Trading Post National Historic Site (32WI17), Montana-North Dakota: Block 20 Report

Author(s): J. Homer Thiel

Year: 2003


Located near the confluence of the Missouri and Yellowstone rivers in North Dakota, Fort Union was an important fur trading post during the 19th century. During the 1980s, the fort was the subject of a multi-year historical archaeology project conducted by the U.S, Department of the Interior, National Park Service (NPS), The project was conducted by the Midwestern Archaeological Center (MW AC), NPS, in response to proposed reconstruction of the trading post as a National Historical Site. In 1988, excavations at Fort Union Trading Post National Historic Site focused on the West and South Palisade areas of the trading post. Eight excavation blocks were defined over an L-shaped area. These were numbered sequentially from Block 15 at the northern end of the west palisade to Block 22 on the west end of the South Palisade. Altogether, 998.5 m2 (10,748 ft2) of the site was excavated in 1988. Block 20 was located in the south central portion of the fort and straddled the center of the 1833-1867 South Palisade. The block incorporated 93 m2 of the 998 m2 excavated in 1988 and during its investigation, 65 cultural stratigraphic units were identified. Each of these units represents such human actions as building a fire, building or tearing down a structure, dumping trash, or just filling and leveling the site. The following report contains an introductory section describing the general research goals and methods implemented during excavations at the fort. The second main section of this report presents a description of the archaeological resources encountered in Block 18. Block 18 was excavated using stratigraphic and arbitrary levels with strata documented using the Harris Matrix. The primary excavation results in Block 20 are summarized in the third section of the report. As was the case for the 1986 and 1987 excavation reports, this report focuses on description of important archeological elements with analysis directed toward a discussion of strata related to architecture and activities not described in the historic record. Although pre-fort cultural strata were not clearly identified in this block, the archeological investigations provided important clues as to the sequence of fort era cultural activity along the South Palisade.

Cite this Record

1988 Archeological Investigations at Fort Union Trading Post National Historic Site (32WI17), Montana-North Dakota: Block 20 Report. J. Homer Thiel. Lincoln, Nebraska: Midwest Archeological Center, National Park Service. 2003 ( tDAR id: 375644) ; doi:10.6067/XCV8RB7492

This Resource is Part of the Following Collections

Spatial Coverage

min long: -104.052; min lat: 47.987 ; max long: -104.024; max lat: 48.013 ;

Individual & Institutional Roles

Contributor(s): William J. Hunt Jr.

Sponsor(s): Midwest Archeological Center, National Park Service

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