Army archaeologists discovering history at Fort Drum





Building for the future at the U.S. Army's Fort Drum is helping unveil the past. The newest discovery at the northern New York Army post is a prehistoric boat-building site near what would have been the shoreline of Glacial Lake Iroquois.

A team of Fort Drum archaeologists surveying a wooded hillside near where the Army is putting a new National Guard training site unearthed an unusual looking stone tool. With the help of a U.S. Marine archaeologist, the team was able to identify it as a triangular-pointed reamer, a typical prehistoric boat-building tool. They also found a punch and other three-dimensional blade tools.

The discovery was made half way down on a sloping wooded hillside that ended with a sharp 100-foot plunge.

"At that time, it would have been a bay or inlet. It would have been a perfect beach for building and launching boats," said Dr. Laurie Rush, Fort Drum's chief archaeologist.

With the help of other experts, Rush has estimated the site is about 11,000 years old _ about the time Indians first arrived in what is now upstate New York.

Rush has found two other sites to strengthen the theory of a prehistoric maritime culture in upstate New York. Two hills _ once islands in Lake Iroquois _ have also yielded stone boat-building tools. Rush will present her findings on the islands in the spring at an annual archaeology conference.

Rush works as the Army's cultural resources program manager at Fort Drum, a sprawling 107,000-acre installation near the U.S.-Canadian border in northern New York that serves as home to the 10th Mountain Division. Any time the ground of a federal installation is disturbed, archaeologists must first survey the site to make sure no historical artifacts will be lost or imperiled.

With Fort Drum building living and training quarters for a new brigade of 6,000 additional soldiers, Rush and her staff of three are nonstop busy. Each summer they get help from a cadre of 20 or so college students.

Since 1998, the team has dug more than 138,000 holes around the post. Amy Wood, a Colorado State University analyst who is part of Rush's staff, keeps track.

"You're just never sure what you might find so you have to pay close attention every time you look somewhere new," Wood said.

Army archaeologists already have identified a major Iroquois village in the middle of the post with dozens of lesser sites scattered around the installation. Rush said nearly 200 significant sites have been located on post.


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