Volunteers sought for Adams State Field School at Ft. Massachusetts

An artist’s rendering of Ft. Massachusetts as it may have appeared in the early 1850s.

Volunteers are sought to work at Adams State University’s Ft. Massachusetts Field School this summer. For the seventh season, Dr. Richard Goddard, professor of history and archaeology, will oversee excavation at the site six miles north of Ft. Garland, Colo.

The Field School runs from June 19-July 26, but volunteers may choose to participate for a few days or a week. No archaeology experience is necessary, and training will be provided.

Dr. Dick Goddard (center) with students at the Ft. Massachusetts site.

Adams State’s Ft. Massachusetts Field School is one of only ten field schools in the country to be certified by the Register of Professional Archaeologists (RPA). RPA certifies archaeological field schools that come up to professional standards of training.

Ft. Massachusetts was established in 1853 to protect the San Luis Valley, which was part of the territory ceded to the U.S. by the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo following the U.S.-Mexico War.

Ft. Massachusetts is located a few miles north of the current site of Ft. Garland, which was established in 1858. “Ft. Massachusetts is a very historically significant site,” Goddard noted. “We now know much more than we did before. We’ve been able to identify and define the fort’s location. Now, we are getting a look at life at the fort through artifacts and structures we’re uncovering.”

Each day at the Field School begins just as it did in the 1850s, with the raising of the flag and firing of the cannon. “Students and volunteers begin to appreciate what it was like to live here, which helps to interpret our findings more accurately,” Goddard said. “We’re seeing exactly the same environment the soldiers did — it has not changed.” Ft. Massachusetts was home to about 150 officers, soldiers, and civilian employees, including men, women, and children.

Interested volunteers can get more details and an application by email.