Why We Went There
As one of the few stone cavalry forts in the American West, historians and archaeologists have been anxious to investigate the little-known site of Fort James. Fort James has been hidden away on private land for over a century, and it was hoped that the archaeology had survived the decades of looting that many other western forts have suffered. Today the Rockport Hutterite colony are the thoughtful stewards of the little piece of Dakota history nestled on their bustling farm.
Unlike the other Time Team sites this season, there was no ongoing dig underway at Fort James. Instead, Assistant State Archaeologist Mike Fosha invited Time Team to help out with his dream project: to explore and record the unique ruins of Fort James. With just three days, Time Team hoped to help Mike determine the size and scope of the abandoned cavalry fort in order to evaluate the historical resource and determine how best to protect the site for the future.
Information gained from the site of Fort James will add to our understanding of Euro-American settlement of the Dakota Territory and the American West. With that in mind, the team set out to explore the size of the fort, how it was built and any clues that might help to illustrate daily life on the Dakota frontier.