Together, the West Virginia Land Trust and The Archaeological Conservancy partnered to acquire and preserve the Arbuckle’s Fort Archaeological Site located in Greenbrier County, West Virginia. This project is an opportunity to preserve a site dating to the Revolutionary War and early settlement period in the state, as well as the important natural resources located on the property.
This 25-acre public preserve is a permanently protected monument to the struggles our Greenbrier Valley ancestors endured in the mid-1700s as they put their roots down in the region. The fort site now rests on a lush grassy knoll bordered by two slow meandering streams; inviting visitors to interpret history while peacefully enjoying the natural setting. Local school students and tourists have used the site to learn about archaeology and history; the permanent preservation of this property will ensure they can continue to do so. It is anticipated that conserving such historic sites throughout the Greenbrier Valley will increase the draw for tourists, and will ultimately boost the local economy as the Valley becomes a destination for more visitors.
Future plans include creating access to this site and ensure its available for educational and tourism activities. The Greenbrier Historical Society will be forming a “Friends of Arbuckle’s Fort” group to help with site interpretation. Those interested should contact Jessica Spatafore at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Arbuckle’s Fort was part of a chain of forts established to defend settlers moving into the Colonial United States’ western frontier. It was constructed in 1774 in reaction to raids from Native Americans in the western part of Virginia, now West Virginia, brought about by increasing European settlement. The fort was built above the confluence of Muddy and Mill Creeks and was first occupied by Captain Matthew Arbuckle’s militia company, who remained until the fall of 1774 when they left to guide Colonel Andrew Lewis to Point Pleasant as part of a campaign during Dunmore’s War. The fort was reoccupied at least by the fall of 1776 during the American Revolution. As groups of Native Americans increasingly sided with the British, the fort was strengthened as a defense along the Allegheny Frontier. The fort was attacked twice but held.
No description of the fort has ever been found, but excavations conducted by archaeologists Kim and Stephen McBride have helped reveal the history of this important site. Buried features include a stone chimney base and foundation from a blockhouse, with a nearby large storage pit that may have served as a powder magazine, ash and refuse filled pits, and a slag concentration from blacksmithing. A trench filled with post molds delineates a stockade with north and south bastions, and two gates. The archaeological integrity of the site; its connection to Native American, African American, and settler communities; and its rich historical documentation give the Arbuckle’s Fort site tremendous potential for research and public interpretation.