(Fort Wayne) -- Detectives are hard at work at a site in Fort Wayne, but it's not a crime scene. You might call it "cold case" history....very "cold" case.
300 years ago, on this spot off Van Buren Street by the St. Mary's River, French fur traders built a fort. Within its walls they battled Indians, disease and the encroaching British army. This hallowed ground has many secrets to tell.
"Is there still something of the old fort here? There may be," said IPFW archeologist Craig Arnold. "But we haven't found it yet. We're still looking."
In a corner of where Fort Miami may have stood, modern-day detectives are searching for clues. They use all the ancient tools of their trade -- shovels, trowels, wood and screen sieves -- looking for telltale needles in a sod haystack. On this day, their efforts are rewarded.
"We have quite a bit of pottery, ceramics," Arnold said. "We have buttons, quite a few different types. We've also got some brass and copper pieces. We're not just looking at the military occupation. We're seeing a complete range of daily life."
These teachers and students from IPFW's archeology department are searching for a clear picture of everyday life in what was a distant outpost in wilderness forest -- who lived here, what did they wear, what did they eat. How did they work and play and fight. Surprisingly little is known of this chapter of Fort Wayne history.
"The name Fort Wayne, you think of all the forts," said Bob McCullough of IPFW. "There are five forts here and to be able to find remnants of any one of those would be significant."
Finding those remnants is a challange. This spot has been flooded hundreds of times since the 18th century. And it's been built on by modern man. That's where technology lends a hand. Before they dig, scientists like McCullough scan the site with ground penetrating radar. The outlines of modern house foundations are clearly seen. This helps them locate relatively untouched patches of earth for exploration. Results so far have been encouraging, but there is much more to do
"We're really trying to flesh out the history of Fort Wayne, what were they doing, and what can we learn from it and how can we learn from those mistakes that were made," said Arnold.
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