Fort Benton dig uncovers artifacts from Engages' Quarters


In a world that sometimes seems on the road to perdition, Larry Cook revels in an era when different cultures lived together fairly peacefully.

A third generation Fort Benton resident, Cook has been key to helping protect the history of the town’s namesake trading post, erected along the Missouri River in 1847. To that end, a gathering of state and federal officials and volunteers took part in an archaeological dig at the trading post site starting on Wednesday.

“You can tell when they find something, everyone yells and cheers,” Cook said. “It’s a lot of fun.”

The work this time was being concentrated on the Engages’ Quarters, where workers at the fort lived in the second story of a long adobe building that housed shops below. Halfway through Wednesday, the dig had already uncovered a 3 1/2-inch wide cannonball, a woman’s trade ring, and numerous rifle flints and trade beads.

“I have not seen a cannonball in many sites that weren’t related to the Civil War,” said Josh Chase, a Bureau of Land Management archaeologist taking part in the work.

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