Metal detectors, radar used to find Army barracks site at 19th century Oregon post

KLAMATH FALLS, Ore. — Archeologists have used ground-penetrating radar to determine exactly where a Fort Klamath soldier barracks stood in the late 19th century.

“It’s a pretty exciting moment,” said Todd Kepple, Klamath County Museums manager. “No trace of this building was visible for the 44 years the county has owned this property. We had no idea exactly where anything was except for the flag pole.”

University of Oregon Museum of Natural and Cultural History archeologists on Wednesday used metal detectors and radar to find where the barracks stood at the Fort Klamath military post, established by the U.S. Army in 1863 to protect settlers as they settled in Klamath, Modoc and Yahooskin Indian territory.

The museum was awarded a Preserving Oregon $10,000 grant to pay for the work. Archeologists went over three sites, but found substantial evidence only at the barracks site.

“To us, this is wild West . history,” said Paul Baxter, an archeologist. “To (tribal members), it’s family history.”

The fort was decommissioned 17 years after the Modoc War, a result of the U.S. government forcing three different American Indian tribes to live together on one reservation. A Modoc Indian the Army called Captain Jack led his tribe off the reservation and the Fort Klamath cavalry was ordered to bring them back.

After a year of battle, Captain Jack was captured and hanged; his grave is at the Fort Klamath Museum.

In 1966, Klamath County acquired 8 acres of the once expansive fort. In its heyday, the military outpost contained 80 buildings stretching from the museum to the town of Fort Klamath.

But in the 75 years the fort was under private ownership, buildings were allowed to disintegrate, leaving nothing but nails and, archeologists discovered Wednesday, a foundation.

“(Wednesday) was a banner day for us,” Kepple said. “It was the first time we’ve been able to turn back the pages of history and see the fort the way it was 120 years ago.”


News Article by Sara Hottman, Herald and News,–Fort-Klamath-Barracks/


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