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Road Construction Unearths Old Fort

Archaeologlsts examine historic remnants


Standard-Examiner staff

Members of Sagebrush Consultants archaeology team unearth pieces of glass and ceramics allegedly from Bingham's Fort at the construction site on Second Street near the entrance of Business Depot Ogden Tuesday.

Members of Sagebrush Consultants archaeologytearn (leftto right) Shane Rumsey, Andrea Field, Ben Wood and Heather Weymouth unearth pieces of glass and ceramics allegedly from Bingham's Fort at the construction site on Second Street near the entrance to the old Defense Depot Ogden Tuesday.

OGDEN - Widening of Second Street between Wall Avenue and Ogden Business Depot turned up more remnants of the old Bingham's Fort, a pioneer stockade that stood in the area the road now cuts through.

Dave Montgomery, who lives in the 300 West block of Second Street, was watching the excavators work outside his front door Monday, when he noticed them turn over some larger than normal squared off stones and got down to take a look.

"They turned over a bunch of stuff, and I saw this rock sticking out, so I started digging." He turned up bits of pottery and rusted metal and contacted other historians, including an archaeologist on contract with the state, who has the power to stop construction if something historical is found.

Don Southworth, who works for Sagebrush Consultants, was called in for a similar find on almost the same spot in 1999. That time, in a location on the north half of the street, workers installing a waterline uncovered part of the foundation of the old fort wall.

This time, Southworth said, they seem to have found an old building, perhaps a barn or stable. It's hard to tell for sure.

Brigham Young told Weber Mormons to "fort up" after an 1850 incident in which an Indian leader and a pioneer were both killed near Four Mile Creek in Harrisville. It was then that Erastus Bingham, the first LDS bishop of the north Ogden area, laid out a fort that stretched from what is now the east side of Wall Avenue to a point about-a quarter mile west of Wall Avenue.

The fort straddled Second Street and, at its peak, housed more than 750 people. When the Indian scare passed in 1856, settlers tore down the fort's mud walls. Over the years its location was forgotten.

The fort has been the subject of research by residents of the area and descendents of Bingham in the last decade. Ogden City even has a walking tour of the area.

None of the maps prepared by researchers show a building at the site where one was found this week, however.

Southworth sat at the site Tuesday afternoon as road excavators worked around him, watching his assistants carefully dig out some hunks of iron, bits of glass and pottery. From what he can tell, he said, there appears to have been a 15-foot-long wall running down the middle of what is now the road. It's hard to tell for sure because installation of a sewer line years ago destroyed a lot.

"But it's 15 feet long, which is a good English measurement," he said.

Most of the artifacts have been found in the corner of the room, he said, which makes him think it was a place people discarded junk. Items include a broken plate, pieces of an old Mason jar dated 1858, part of an ice cream machine and "part of a thunder mug, a charnber.pot," he said.

Other items include nails and bits of window glass, he said.

It is still hard to say whether the items are from the fort or later, he said. The date on the Mason jar is misleading, since the same date of jar could have been sold anytime in the following 20 years, and used for 20 to 30 more after that before it was discarded. Most of the other items seem to date from the 1880s.

Work at the site finished Wednesday morning. Southworth said if money allowed he'd like to see archaeological work done on both sides of the road, which includes fields untouched since the turn of the century. Money, however, is a problem.

"This is probably the most historical spot in Weber County besides Fort Buenaventura, because it's the oldest," he said.

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