Authorities have kept the exact location of Fort Lane undisclosed to keep treasure hunters at bay, but even so archaeologists have found missing artifacts and holes on the site.
“There was a fairly extensive amount of looting,” said Mark Tveskov, an associate professor at SOU and director of the laboratory.
“The value of the fort is in its integrity,” he added. “Our excavations were very limited in scale. We left everything intact.”
Tveskov, who led test digs at the site in a joint effort by the county, SOU and the Southern Oregon Historical Society in 2004-06, noted that artifacts taken out of context render them useless to those looking for clues about the region’s past.
The Oregon Parks and Recreation Commission has agreed to take over the fort and environs, but until the ownership transfer goes through, the sheriff’s department is going to keep an eye on things.
Built in 1853 by the U.S. Army’s First Dragoons based in Benicia, Calif., the short-lived fort represented the Rogue Valley’s only civil authority. It was established shortly after a clash between American Indians and European settlers. It was named in honor of Joseph Lane, Oregon’s first territorial governor, who also led military campaigns against the Indians in 1851 and 1853.
It sounds like it’ll be a great park when all is said done, with something for the history enthusiast, hiker and day-tripper alike.