I. The Fort McCoy Cultural Resources Program: Assists the installation commander in making informed decisions regarding the cultural resources under his or her control in compliance with public laws, in support of the military mission, and consistent with sound principles of cultural resource management.  The successful balance of mission requirements and cultural resource compliance responsibilities requires long-term planning, coordination, and effective management to prevent conflicts between the installation mission and managed resources.

II. Background: The Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979 and the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 require federal land-management agencies to protect and preserve historic properties, including archaeological sites, for the benefit of all Americans. Compliance with federal historic preservation law is integrated with the sound application of scientific methods and theory to form the basis for cultural resource management in the Department of Army. Fort McCoy is in the process of developing a formal Integrated Cultural Resources Management Plan that seeks to assure full compliance with federal law while establishing a scientifically rigorous research program. Beginning in 1993, a systematic archaeological survey plan for the Fort McCoy military reservation was developed in cooperation with the Wisconsin State Archaeologist within the framework of the Wisconsin Regional Archaeological Survey Program. All initial surveys were completed by the fall of 2014.  Reports of all archaeological surveys conducted on Fort McCoy were distributed to the Wisconsin State Historical Society and the Ho-Chunk Nation.  Cultural Resource Management personnel are currently in the process of evaluating identified archaeological sites for their eligibility for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places.

III. Organization: The Fort McCoy Cultural Resources Management Program is part of the Natural Resource Branch of the Environmental Division within the Directorate of Public Works and is dedicated to providing professional cultural resources management services to Fort McCoy.

IV. Program: Most of the cultural resource management activities on Fort McCoy revolve around the discovery and interpretation of the large number of prehistoric Native American archaeological sites on the installation and their significance to Wisconsin prehistory. Archaeological sites are discovered during field surveys by physical examination of specific locations on the landscape using traditional archaeological field survey methods.

The following categories of cultural resources are located on Fort McCoy:

(1) Pre-Contact Native American archaeological sites
(2) Post-Contact Native American archaeological sites
(3) Historic archaeological sites that represent the remains of European settlement
(4) Industrial archaeological sites that represent the remains of the area’s first industries
(5) Military structures and features

There currently are more than 580 state-registered archaeological sites and one archaeological district on the installation. These sites range from the Late Paleo-Indian Period through the early 20th Century, a time-span of over 10,000 years. There also are more than 400 unregistered sites that consist of isolated and surface finds that lack sufficient context or integrity to provide more specific cultural information. 119 archaeological sites have been determined eligible for nomination to the National Register of Historic Places and are protected in accordance with the National Historic Preservation Act.

Native American sites on Fort McCoy are typically small campsites that were occupied for a season. Other site types include those related to resource procurement, including lithic quarries and workshops used for working the raw stone material into tools. Euro-American sites on Fort McCoy represent four different functional types: historic refuse scatters, cabin/homesteads, foundation/depressions, and military sites. Although there are no state-registered industrial sites on the Fort McCoy military reservation, this site type was a prominent feature of the historic landscape given the agricultural-based economy that existed during the 19th Century. Four industrial sites have been identified on Fort McCoy: three sawmills documented on 19th Century plat maps, and a shingle manufacturing mill located in the northeastern portion of the installation.

There are currently 381 identified Native American sites on Fort McCoy which can be assigned to a specific cultural period. Euro-American activities are a documented component of 225 identified archaeological sites. As the landscape is constantly reused through time, many site areas were occupied by both Native American and Euro-Americans, though not necessarily at the same time. There are two interesting buildings that predate WWII, one of which is currently considered eligible for the National Register of Historic Places: Building 6017, the Ordnance Magazine. Constructed in 1911, Building 6017 is the oldest building on Fort McCoy. As the only building remaining in its original pre-WWII location, this building represents the original land-use patterns from pre-World War I period, when the installation served as an important target range and maneuver ground for regular Army and National Guard units.  Building 6158, the Instructors’ Building, was constructed in 1931 to provide office space and an assembly room for the post’s training staff.  While not currently considered eligible for the NRHP, the Instructors’ Building is the only surviving structure that strongly recalls the military personnel involved with the installation’s summer training program.

Another important military-era historic property is the World War II-era Japanese Prisoner of War Compound A. During WWII this site was the first and largest Japanese POW camp for the permanent internment of Japanese POWs in the US.

All accessible portions of the installation have been investigated for historic properties therefore the number of known properties on Fort McCoy is not expected to significantly grow in the future.  Fort McCoy continues to meet its obligations to the National Historic Preservation Act by actively investigating the remaining known historic properties on the installation by conducting archaeological fieldwork to evaluate these sites for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places.

V. Summary: Although Fort McCoy seemingly has an abundance of archaeological resources, those same resources are fragile and irreplaceable. It is important for the visitor to Fort McCoy to understand that any person, who without authorization, excavates, removes, damages, or otherwise alters or defaces any historic or prehistoric site, artifact or object of antiquity on the Fort McCoy military reservation is violating federal laws. Fort McCoy archaeologists are working with other archaeologists and Native American groups throughout the region to document the prehistory of west-central Wisconsin. The “arrowheads” and other lithic materials that visitors may find on Fort McCoy are important clues for determining the history of Fort McCoy and Monroe County. Their presence often identifies an archaeological site, and their designs help establish the time periods when their ancient makers lived. But this information is lost forever if the materials are taken or removed from their original location. The discovery of any archaeological artifact should be reported to the Natural Resource Branch at (608) 388-4793.