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Group buys site of Colonial-era blockhouse

ALBANY -- A national archaeology preservation organization has acquired an upstate property that was home to a Colonial-era blockhouse built to guard Britain's largest North American fortification during the French and Indian War.

Andy Stout, eastern regional director for the Albuquerque-based Archaeological Conservancy, said yesterday that the nonprofit group recently closed on the purchase of 12 acres just outside Fort Edward, on the Hudson River 45 miles north of Albany.

The property on a wooded hill in the town of Moreau, across the river in neighboring Saratoga County, was the site of the Royal Blockhouse, a fort built in 1758. The large wooden structure was part of a sprawling British and provincial American military complex that included Fort Edward and nearby Rogers Island.

Stout said the blockhouse property is unique among U.S. archaeological sites because it was part of England's largest fortification in North America during the war the English and French fought from 1755-63 for control of the continent. The complex included outer defenses such as blockhouses, Fort Edward itself, and Rogers Island, the base camp for the famed Rogers' Rangers, American frontiersmen who served as scouts for the regular British army.

Rogers Island is considered the birthplace of today's U.S. Army Rangers.

Amateur archaeologists and relic hunters had dug at the site for years, but professional archaeologists have also conducted excavations there, and the artifacts they uncovered are being turned over the New York State Museum this week, Stout said.

"It's not often you get the chance to acquire a site and a collection from it," he said.

There are no immediate plans for any more digs, but archaeologists can apply to the conservancy to conduct excavations at its properties, Stout said.

The Royal Blockhouse was one of the two largest built by the British in the colonies during the French and Indian War, according to David Starbuck, a professor at New Hampshire's Plymouth State University who has led archaeological digs at 18th-century military sites in the Fort Edward and Lake George areas.

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