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Fort Duquesne drain discovered

Pittsburgh Tribune ReviewBy Jodi Weigand
Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Tom Kutys knew right away that he found something special.
Kutys, 24, whose archeology firm is monitoring the $35 million renovation of Point State Park, was working in a trench two weeks ago when he found three capstones. He thought it might be a wall, but the hollow, brick lining told him otherwise.

“It was just three rocks with mortar between, but when we started further investigating it, things started popping up that tipped us off,” Kutys, a field technician with A.D. Marble & Company, said Tuesday.

Archaeologists believe Kutys unearthed a 200-year-old Fort Duquesne drain that drew water away from a storehouse or munitions storage area.

“This is, to my knowledge, the first physical evidence of Fort Duquesne that’s ever been identified since the late 18th or early 19th century, when remains were still slightly visible,” said Brooke Blades, a archeologist with A.D. Marble, based in Montgomery County.
It is the third major archaeological discovery at the park since the start of the renovation project, which will convert the area into a festival and concert venue. Archeologists previously found decades-old human bones and part of Fort Pitt’s interior wall.

The drain was found 2 1/2 to 4 feet below ground on the southeast side of the park’s Great Lawn area, about 40 feet south of the Fort Duquesne tracery — the brick outline of the original fort.

“The construction (of the drain) suggests it was made in the late 18th or early 19th century, and the distance from the remains of the fort clearly argue for association with Fort Duquesne,” Blades said.

Fort Duquesne, built by the French in 1754, was destroyed four years later as the British advanced during the French and Indian War. The British then built Fort Pitt in its place.

Few remnants of Fort Duquesne have been found.

Blades said archaeologists plan to follow the drain north and look for other evidence of Fort Duquesne, which might be near the surface.

“The fact that we’re finding things argues that there may be extensive evidence of Fort Duquesne intact,” Blades said. “Probably the lowest part, because buildings would have been eradicated.”

The archeological work will not delay renovations. The drain will be preserved and buried for a future excavation project, said Laura Fisher, senior vice president of the Allegheny Conference on Community Development, a sponsor of the renovation project.

“It will be covered up in the short term,” she said, “but what we hope to do is come back and have an active program for archeology in the park.”

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