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NWK: Kanopolis Lake Partnership for Archaeological and Cultural Properties Management

Pictures from Ft Ellsworth 2000 dig

Lake: Kanopolis Lake, KS

Partners: USACE; Kansas State Historical Society; Kansas Anthropological Association

Corps POC: Dr. Robert Ziegler, Archeologist

Story: During the summer of 2000, a partnership involving the Kansas City District, the Kansas State Historical Society, and the Kansas Anthropological Association, conducted additional archaeological data recovery investigations at the site of Fort Ellsworth (1864-1867) Kansas, located at Kanopolis Lake. These partners first excavated at the site in 1996, thus the 2000 work is a continuation of the partnership and the second major archaeological data recovery investigation at the site. Over 185 volunteers participated in the 2000 excavations, contributing 5,500 volunteer hours. The Kansas State Historical Society also contributed the services of three staff archaeologists for approximately 152 hours each. This partnership has made it possible to recover significant data from portions of the site endangered by looters and riverbank erosion. Excavations in 1996 and 2000 focused on the subsurface remains of fort buildings and associated artifacts. Based on the research, we now know that soldiers and their wives lived in small, crude, dugout structures and log huts. Animal bones associated with these structures indicate that the inhabitants enjoyed a diverse assortment of beef and pork (as well as chicken) dishes. As a result of the archaeological investigations, we have a much fuller understanding of everyday life of the soldiers and other inhabitants of this little-known temporary fort located in an area that was visited by Wild Bill Hickok, Buffalo Bill Cody, and General George Custer.

What our partners are saying: "This truly cooperative project allowed public participation in the scientific investigation of an archeological site significant to the State of Kansas and the nation. Kansas Anthropological Association volunteers donated their skilled labor to accomplish the fieldwork and much of the laboratory work--and they had a good time doing it. Kansas State Historical Society staff was responsible for pre-field arrangements, classroom instruction, field and lab supervision, records management, and long-term collections curation. The USACE provided land access, logistical support, and funding that insured the completion of artifact processing, data analysis, and report-writing. The rewarding result is a model for federal-state-private partnership." - Virginia A. Wulfkuhle, Public Archeologist, Kansas State Historical Society

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