Archaeologists digging to unearth stories of military soldiers at Fort Douglas

SALT LAKE CITY — Archaeologists on the University of Utah’s Fort Douglas are “geeking out” over an unintentional unearthing of historic significance.

Contractors digging a utility trench about 4 years ago by chance uncovered and partially destroyed elements of a sandstone basis for what is believed to have been army barracks built sometime between 1862 and 1875.

“We don’t get Civil Warfare archaeology in Utah to start with, and undoubtedly not in such an accessible location,” stated Sheri Ellis, an archaeological marketing consultant with Certus Environmental Solutions who has been asked to assist the Utah Division of State History oversee and decide the importance of what’s discovered at excavation websites all alongside Potter Road.

The managed excavation on the location of the National Historic Landmark is to help mitigate the injury finished by the trench-diggers, but in addition to perhaps fill within the gaps of what’s overlooked of history books, specifics pertaining to the lives of the soldiers and their households who stayed there at one time.

Archaeologists and public have helped in the course of the dig, which is open till a minimum of Friday, to uncover numerous gadgets by sifting by way of the filth on the website, helping to piece collectively a narrative of a largely forgotten chunk of time.

“It’s a fantastic option to involve the general public in their historical past … to deliver history to life,” stated Mike Mower, deputy chief of employees for Utah Gov. Gary Herbert, who stopped by the location on Saturday.

Random buttons, pieces of damaged glass, a blackened but intact inkwell, shards of metallic and discarded bullet casings, army insignia, broken hen and cow bones, enamel and ceramic dishes and different paraphernalia have been among gadgets found Saturday in what they consider was a small trash deposit on the website, both used to degree the bottom beneath a structure or the results of a construction that burned down, Ellis stated.

The dry soil in Utah helps to preserve such things.

“You do not know what you’re going to find with one thing like this,” she stated. “You actually do not know what you are moving into and plans can change along the best way relying on what you find.”

Ellis stated every properly-documented discovery supplies “clues concerning the life that existed right here.”

Not an entire lot is understood concerning the individuals who established Fort Douglas, except that they have been volunteer soldiers who got here to Utah beneath orders of a colonel in the Civil Warfare to determine a army presence within the state. Ellis stated there’s proof of girls and youngsters having lived nearby, denoting that whole households have been delivered to the location at one time.

And land the place the Huntsman Cancer hospital sits is believed to have been used as a capturing range because of artifacts which were found there.

Around 1875, the previous picket barracks have been torn down and new, sandstone buildings have been erected close to the same website — nonetheless standing at Fort Douglas at this time.

The historic foundation…

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