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Fort Massachusetts Archaeological Field School

Location: 6 miles north of Fort Garland, United States

June 17, 2013 to July 24, 2013

Session dates: 

Application Deadline: 
Friday, June 7, 2013

Deadline Type: 

Discount for AIA members: 

Program Type

Field school

RPA certified



Adams State University, Alamosa, Colorado

Project Director:

Dr. Richard Goddard, Professor of Anthropology

Project Description

The field school focuses primarily on the excavation of an historic site, but includes training in all basic archaeological skills applicable to prehistoric and historic sites.  The site is a 19th century frontier military outpost.

The field school offerssix credits in history or archaeology at the graduate or undergraduate level.  Training is provided in a number of areas:

  • Archaeological survey:
  • Geospatial Data Management          
  • Archaeological Excavation
  • Artifact Processing.

In 1848, the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo officially ended the Mexican War and the lands of Southern Colorado, including the San Luis Valley, were ceded to the United States.  The San Luis Valley was already the location of several Hispanic settlements that represented the northernmost reaches of the Mexican frontier in this region.  Five years later, the United States Government established a military presence in the San Luis Valley with the construction of Fort Massachusetts.  This fort was occupied for approximately five years before it was relocated further south and renamed Fort Garland.  Those five years represent a period of poorly documented changes for the US military.  Many of the details we would like to know about that time are only contained in the archaeological record, a record that is particularly well preserved at the Fort Massachusetts site.

Topics of interest:

  • Location of Fort Massachusetts
  • Fort construction
  • Military organization
  • Lifestyles at a frontier outpost
  • Women and children at frontier outposts

Period(s) of Occupation: Victorian America, 1852-1858

Frontier military outpost at the foot of a mountain in the Colorado Rockies

Project size: 
1-24 participants

Minimum Length of Stay for Volunteers: Six weeks for students, variable for volunteers

Minimum age: 
16, Younger with parent

Experience required: 

Room and Board Arrangements

Participants provide their own tents, trailers, or RVs (No hookups available).  They also provide their own food.  Various cooking facilities will be provided as will bathrooms with flush toilets and showers.
Participants will be in a semi-primitive camping situation in a moderate to cool climate.  The location is in a wooded area near the base of a mountain.  A mountain stream runs through the site and adjacent to the camping area.
Participants will walk  the short distance from the camp to the site.  Private vehicles, other than RVs will not be allowed on the site or in the camping area.  Cars will be parked in a parking area several miles away.  Periodic shuttle trips will be made to the parking area or nearby towns to replenish supplies.

$800, free to volunteers

Academic Credit

Name of institution offering credit: 
Adams State University
Number of credits offered 6
$800 total


Contact Information
Dr. Richard A. Goddard
Dept. of HGP, Adams State University, 208 Edgemont Blvd