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Historian seeks to find real footprint of Fort Amanda

April 18, 2013

Jarrod Burks, an archaeologist, scans Fort Amanda State Park with a push-cart device called a magnetometerto try and determine the exact location of the actual fort.

FORT AMANDA — Dave Johnson has spent much of the last 40 years studying the history of Fort Amanda, many times debunking myths once believed about its history with information he discovered.

He said he now believes a current project going on at the field next to Fort Amanda State Park may soon debunk another one.

Archaeologists are currently analyzing the site, which he thinks will likely show the fort as being located differently than where it is currently believed. He believes Fort Amanda was located slightly more to the north.

Johnson, who is from the area and who relocated to Columbus in 2001, said he never gave up his quest for information about

Fort Amanda and its history. He has recovered several artifacts from the site and has used them to study the history.

“There has always been a lot of interest in Fort Amanda,” Johnson said. “I became really interested in its history and began studying it.”

Included in the items he has studied are journals of people who had been stationed at the fort, which was originally a supply fort providing items for soldiers protecting Ohio from British invasion during the War of 1812.

Based on information he had gotten from the journals, he developed the idea the site was approximately 80 to 100 feet to the north from where it is commonly believed to sit now. He contacted Ohio Valley Archaeology to see if they could analyze the site. The field is owned by Dave Kriegel, who shares a love of the history of the fort with Johnson.

Kriegel is funding the research.

Archaeologists Jarrod Burks and Stephen Biehl could be seen throughout the day Wednesday surveying the field, setting it into grids and preparing to analyze the field. They will spend approximately three days passing over the field with a magnetometer, which looks like a lawn mower but it measures iron.

“It is sensitive to metal objects and areas where there may have been burning,” Burks said. “It makes an area more magnetic if things were burned. This equipment simply measures magnetism, so you generally can get a good sense of where buildings were because of nails used to build them.”

The information gathered will be analyzed for underground features.

“Hopefully the foundation will show up and make it easier,” Johnson said.

He also said it is important to make corrections to history to ensure it is correct.

“There have already been many myths corrected about this area,” Johnson said. “It may seem insignificant, but a lot of people have taken an interest in Fort Amanda and its history. We need to preserve its history and make sure it is accurate.”

A video crew from WTLW also visited the site Wednesday and is helping prepare a documentary about the history of the park and the current project of trying to establish its exact location.

Johnson said the video will be circulated to area school districts as an educational tool.

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