2023 NCC-CAS Summer Project

View of Steamboat Rock at the crest of the Devil’s Washboard

When you first arrive on this land just north of Fort Collins, you are immediately struck with a sense of beauty, awe inspiring views, and mixed feelings. There’s just simply something about it that strikes a chord with your spirit knowing that the history of this section of land is rich both in Native American culture and the American Pioneer settling on and across this land throughout the past.

Our goal for this summer’s project was to “dig deeper” and determine the function of ruins that were supposedly a saloon and/or blacksmith shop. We wanted to organize a field project so that CAS members could join in and dig out in the field. There was no better place to start other than a private ranch north of Fort Collins. This site is in close proximity to both the Cherokee and Overland trails in which pioneers and families made their way out west to establish a new life, or maybe just dream of gold in California.

CAS members and grad students surveying the site together

The crew consisted of various CAS members, a human remains dog, OCTA members, and CSU grad students who all pitched in and helped survey and work on the site. Everyday we learned a bit more as we un-earthed various artifacts, found additional features, mapped the ruins, metal detected all over the site boundaries, and had our buddy, Hawk, the human remains dog, search for any unsuspecting graves so we knew where to avoid. Everyday brought something new to the table and we all got to see how a site and found artifacts are documented and GPS pinpointed. Results are forthcoming as we have a bit more work to do in the fall followed by lab analysis of the “bagged and tagged” items.

Overall, it was an amazing, educational, and wonderful time spent on this land. We pondered how special it must have been to spend a day or two here in the past, whether that being thousands of years ago living off the land, or in a wagon heading west. This project was just the first in what we at the Northern Colorado Chapter want to blossom into a yearly project, so that our members can learn more about the land on which we now live and its rich cultural history.

Enjoy these pictures from our time spent at the project site, until next time…..

Northern Colorado Chapter, CAS

June 2023

Jon Suhy, VP

2022 CAS Annual Conference at the Embassy Suites, Loveland, Colorado

Mid-day at the 2022 CAS Annual Conference, hosted by the Northern Colorado Chapter

First off, I would like to say thanks to anyone and everyone who attended and showed support at our Annual CAS Conference this year at the Embassy Suites, our IT helpers and volunteers were much appreciated and needed to make this happen and we could not do it without you. Also, our Northern Colorado Chapter would like to send out a special thanks to the State CAS people including Karen Kinnear, all of the award winners, and all the speakers who gave their wonderful and interesting presentations, especially Dr. Jason LaBelle our Keynote Speaker for the night. Everyone did an amazing job!!!

Book sale and silent auction for the Alice Hamilton Scholarship just outside the main “presentation room” at the Embassy Suites

The CAS Annual Conference went very well this year, and was well put together with many exciting and interesting speakers who gave their presentations throughout the day and into the night. Many of the presenters were fairly local and the sites and places that were talked about sparked much interest within the crowd of CAS members which is always a good thing to see and hear.

The book sale to raise money for the Alice Hamilton Scholarship went very well and was a major success, as well as the silent auction which was FULL of amazing items from hand woven baskets, paintings, hand-made jewlery to sponsored items from O’Dells Brewing and Coca-Cola products. There were so many items that we can only hope that you got the item you bidded on and went home with a smile knowing your donation was much appreciated and went to a good cause!

Many wonderful items were up for bid at the silent auction

The highlight of the evening was Dr. LaBelle’s presentation which noted a few local sites including work at the Lindenmeier site north of Fort Collins and the Dent site in Milliken and how we can protect these and other sites in the future years to come. We at the Northern Chapter would like to again thank Dr. LaBelle for his time and effort put into his work put on display tonight at the Annual Conference.

Dr. Jason LaBelle our Keynote Speaker this evening giving his presentation on local archaeology in Northern Colorado

…When the Conference was said and done, we at the Northern Colorado Chapter were in awe, as all the hard work and organization (and headaches) paid off and the whole thing went off without a hitch! I will just say personally our Chapter worked very hard in putting this all together the past many months, random meetings here and there to go over how this will all go, especially with a completely new set of CAS officers…..and it all paid off! What a wonderful time spent with many, many great and interesting CAS members from all over Colorado. It was a pleasure to finally see and meet you all.

….Last thanks goes out to the one and only Lori Vanagunas…our fearless Chapter President. This day would not have happened if it wasn’t for her hard work, determination, professionalism and attitude (I might add her love for CAS as well) and leadership skills. We know this within our Chapter ranks and are truly thankful Lori is our hardworking President, because without her this whole thing would have gone a whole other direction. So again, from all of us THANK YOU!!!!!!

Northern Colorado Chapter, CAS

October 2023

Jon Suhy, VP

Oldman Mtn. Presentation and Northern Colorado Chapter Kickoff Meeting

The Summit of Oldman Mtn. looking down into Estes Park

Today was the first meeting with our Northern Chapter with members (not just officers) in attendance in quite some time, and the meeting was wonderful. Seeing members again, united and talking together before and after the business part of the meeting was a great site to see, especially over some tacos and drinks! We thank those in attendance and appreciate their interest and support of our Chapter, always.

Another gorgeous view of the W side of Oldman Mtn. and the forest and boulders surrounding the peak

…As we all finished up with our meals, we moved on to the business portion of the meeting and went over mostly our budget as it stands, and updates about our 2022 Annual Conference hosted by, yes…OUR CHAPTER this year!

After the meeting was conducted, I myself gave a presentation on Oldman Mtn. in Estes Park, a gorgeous small summit just outside of town known for being a “Vision Quest” site. The presentation I put together and pictures (I actually took myself hiking up the Mountain) sparked much interest about this wonderful slice of local archaeology and after I was finished with taking everyone “up” the Mountain through pictures and different stops along the way to the summit, the questions rolled in and I answered them as best I could. I have studied many facets of Rocky Mtn. National Park for many years now and it was a pleasure to share the information I have learned and researched over the past years and to educate others about this National Park.

What seemed to spark the most interest was actually some of the ancient trail systems of Rocky Mtn. National Park and how most of them coincide with each other up in the Alpine Tundra. The question of “Why?” also came up a lot about the Oldman Mtn. and why this specific granite knob was used as a vision quest site. I will just say this, THIS is what we want to happen with our members at meetings, talking about local archaeology with one another and learning more as we continue to have these meetings through the upcoming months, especially next year when the weather turns again, more presentations and field trips within our Northern Chapter are sure to “Spring” up. Hope to see you all soon, thanks for reading!

Northern Colorado Chapter, CAS

September 2022

Jon Suhy, VP

A day of Archaeology at Roberts Ranch

Today at Roberts Ranch, CAS members and others alike from groups such as OCTA and Larimer County Historical Society started showing up one by one and a real sense of interest and excitement started building for the day ahead. As we were properly lead into the archaeological site and understood that it was an active dig; undoubtedly many knew that they would be in for a real treat soon due to the speaker today Dr. Jason LaBelle the Director of the Center for Mountain and Plains Archaeology and a Professor at Colorado State University, a well spoken, down-to-earth and knowledgeable gentleman that is very good at speaking with groups.

Dr. Jason LaBelle explaining what the CSU Field School is currently working on here at the Roberts Ranch archaeological site here in Larimer County

To be with a group of people who have the same interests is a wonderful thing. The thirst for knowledge of the past peoples of this landscape is truly a fascinating thing to see and when you are all there together to better gain an understanding of the ancient peoples and the way they lived, you feel like you are part of something bigger, almost envisioning the past as you stand there in the field wondering how it may have been all those years ago.

As we headed up the small incline, we met up with the CSU Field School and saw them sifting and brushing away in the windswept fields. They graciously took time out of their day to introduce themselves and explain what they were all working on and why it was of interest to them.

Several students of the CSU Field School hard at work uncovering the past to learn more and better understand this place in Northern Colorado

As the cloudy skies kept rolling by, we finally came to the end of the tour of the various sites here today at Roberts Ranch, and Dr. LaBelle came to a perfect stopping point in his speeches and we all thanked him graciously for his time and knowledge on the subject of this fascinating place today, as he also thanked us for showing up and understanding the protection and importance of these lands we set foot on today. The insight spread about the group today was absolutely brilliant and extremely fascinating. Everyone undoubtedly left with a better understanding of this wonderful and beautiful place and all questions were answered perfectly by our host. A great day to be in Colorado!

…Well, as this our first post as the Northern Colorado Chapter, if you read this then we encourage you to join up with our chapter of CAS or the closest one near you and learn more about local and statewide Archaeology if you are interested. Thanks for reading!

Northern Colorado Chapter, CAS

July 2022

Jon Suhy, VP