Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2019

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

First Advisor

Catherine M. Cameron

Second Advisor

Scott Ortman

Third Advisor

Douglas Bamforth


This study examines the archaeology of Fort Vasquez, a nineteenth century fur trade fort in the South Platte River Basin of Colorado that operated from 1835-1842. I use artifact analysis, historical documentation, historical and archaeological analogue, expert opinion, and the excavation notes of Dr. James Judge from 1970 to address two research questions. 1) What are the global trade connections that can be identified from the Fort Vasquez artifact collection? 2) Is Dr. James Judge’s hypothesis about the function of Fort Vasquez as being primarily a storage facility out of which traders operated remotely, supported by an in-depth analysis of specific artifact categories and updated historical and archaeological research regarding the Fur Trade Era.

I determined through my analysis of beads, pipes, ceramics, buttons, leather, and miscellaneous ornamentation that Fort Vasquez had global trading connections to countries in Europe and Asia. Additionally, my examination of these artifact categories combined with other lines of evidence leads me to conclude that Judge’s hypothesis is not well supported. I instead propose that Fort Vasquez primarily functioned as a nexus of social events and trade.