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JEFFERSONVILLE, Ind. (WDRB) -- An in-depth archeological investigation is set to begin this week on land in Jeffersonville, Ind., thought to be home to the city's founding fort.
The work will involve excavating a 2,950 square-foot area on Riverside Drive just east of the Kennedy Bridge where piers for a new downtown interstate bridge are planned as part of the Ohio River Bridges Project, said Max Rowland, project manager for Walsh Construction, which is overseeing the span's construction.
Rowland said the new review was prompted by the discovery of "broken artifacts," including pottery, that were previously salvaged at the site, which local historians believe was the location of a garrison established by the U.S. Army in the late 19th century as a defense network against Native American raids.
"Each phase gets a little more detailed in what they dig up," he said.
Rowland said none of the artifacts unearthed so far are believed to be associated with the fort – known as Fort Steuben – or a house in the area where Indiana territorial Gov. Thomas Posey lived before leaving office in 1816. Posey chose to live in Jeffersonville because he didn't like the capital of Corydon, according to the Encyclopedia of Louisville.
The excavation, headed by McCullough Archeological Services of Indianapolis, is expected to take up to five weeks. Even if pieces are discovered from the fort or former governor's residence, Rowland said construction of the downtown crossing shouldn't be affected.
"We're starting out in the river. We won't even be in that area … until the middle of next year," he said.
Workers were on the site Wednesday morning, although no excavation appeared to be underway. Most recently, the land was home to several houses that were moved to make way for bridge construction.
A separate archeological dig last year near the bridge route at Market Street in Jeffersonville turned up remnants of Indiana ‘s first state prison, along with a French gun flint used in the mid-1700s and 19th century bottle fragments, among other discoveries.
The artifacts were exhumed and are to be sent to the Indiana State Museum in Indianapolis.
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