El Pueblo Project
Pueblo County, Colorado
Throughout the 1990s and into the early 2000s, Dr. William Buckles lead a team of volunteers from the Pueblo Archaeological and Historical Society (PAHS) – a local chapter of the Colorado Archaeological Society (CAS) – in an investigation of the iconic site of the El Pueblo trading post in Pueblo, Colorado. Hundreds of community and PAHS members excavated nearly 500 cubic meters of dirt and spent hundreds of hours in the laboratory analyzing artifacts from the site.
The El Pueblo Fort was a small trading post built in 1842 on what was then the Mexican-American border, the Arkansas River. The “fort” had a mostly inauspicious existence from a colorful cast of characters, all of whom are seen today as the founders of Pueblo – Teresita Sandoval, James Beckworth and Matthew Kinkead to name a few. Apache and Ute warriors attacked El Pueblo Fort on Christmas Day in 1854 and the fort was never rebuilt.
In 1882 the Fariss Hotel was built on top of the site. It was the remains of this site, and not El Pueblo, that comprised most of the 100,000 artifacts that Buckles and his team excavated. However, for many of the volunteers who took part in the project, it didn’t matter whether the artifacts were from El Pueblo or the Fariss Hotel. The project was popular for so many years because the public was helping to drive the direction of the research, and to take part in investigating the earliest history of their city.