Jodi Marshall: This week I was back at the Parade Ground in search of the elusive flag staff erected about 1850 after the U.S. military took over the fort. It was said to be so tall that it could be seen up and down the Columbia and might have been as tall as 150 feet! It disappeared from pictures and writtenrecords in the mid 1870s. As far as we know, it was not documented as to what happened to it so it is a mystery. We are also not sure as to how it was erected so we only have the knowledge of how it would have been traditionally done. What we are looking for is the base or ballast of the flag staff. The park would eventually like to reconstruct it along with the original path that lead from the front of the Grant house ( now a restaurant on the City of Vancouver's Officers Row) directly to the flag post. This is very exciting!
On the first day back at the site, I was brought up to speed as to what had happened while I was gone. There were four small holes or voids that had opened up within three of the four units. This was exciting at first but they ended up being Krotovina (rodent holes.) Bits of wood had became more abundant along with fire-cracked rock.
On the second day Dr. Beth Horton decided to bring one of our 1x1 meter units down farther than the rest as she was suspecting that it was near the flag staff. I screened all day and began to recover lithic debitage, which are stone flakes or biproducts from making stone tools. This was very puzzling because the level that we were in was the age of the US military and not of a precontact American Indian site. So how did the debitage get in there? We are still not sure. There were also many new holes that opened up within the unit but looked like they were Krotovina again or perhaps just loose dirt from the flagstaff hole.
On day three Beth uncovered a very large piece of wood in the middle of one of the Units. The next day it was uncovered even more and turned out to be a larger piece of timber sitting at about a 45 degree angle. There was also a larger piece of timber discovered sitting on the western side of the same unit. There are still many pieces of lithic debitage being recovered in this unit too. The south east corner began to collapse or crumble down as if there were a large void underneath it. It turns out that it was just loose soil due to having been disturbed some time ago. Could this mean we have found the site of the flag staff? Stay tuned…
Editors note: a story in the Columbian just ran on the flag staff dig. Here is the link: http://www.columbian.com/news/2014/jul/23/students-dig-in-at-fort-flagpole-site/