Colonial Pemaquid Remembers Helen Camp on 50th Anniversary Of Groundbreaking “Digs”


By Carol McCracken  (Post # 2,316)

Fifty years ago this year, self-taught archaeologist Helen Camp began to dig for Indian artifacts in a logical place – beside  Fort William Henry – on the Maine coast in small Bristol.  Her early excavations between 1965 and 1974 uncovered artifacts as well as the foundations of 14 Colonial-era buildings, including a forge, a tavern and trading post, dwellings and storage buildings and a portion of Ft. William Henry. Camp was a role model for what women could become and the possibilities in the 60s when there were few around,  She also inspired in many young people who worked with her sifting for artifacts, like me, an interest in Maine’s  history – a history that is little known even to some of its own today.

Camp’s tireless and professional skills turned what had once been a farm plot owned by Gordon VanBuskirk into a National Historic site.   Her name is well-respected at Colonial Pemaquid, although the task of telling the story of Colonial Pemaquid has now passed on to others.  Don Loprieno as president of the Friends of Colonial Pemaquid is now responsible for that as well as supervising the interns who work there during the summer months when tourism is at its highest.

Colonial Pemaquid is one of the earliest sites of European occupation in North America.  It was used as a seasonal fishing station as early as the 1610s and was the location of a permanent village settled between 1625 – 1629.  It was at its highpoint in 1628 according to Loprieno, who dresses in costume.  In 1677, Fort Charles, the first of three forts on the site was built.  The site became a National Historic Landmark in 1993.  Due to the lack of a benefactor like the Rockefeller Family or S. Donald Sussman,   Colonial Pemaquid has most unfortunately remained underdeveloped over the years. What could have been a major tourist attraction on the Maine coast has been ignored.

Dan Loprieno, was formerly, manager of the 90 acre Stony Point Battle Field, at Stony Point, New York on the Hudson River.

The Friends have a summer program which includes: Monday, July 13th a Geological Variations in Maine During the Past 10,000 years – First lecture of the season by David Cook, who will describe and discuss the repeating ice cycles and forces that produced Maine’s modern landscape, as well as speculate on what the future holds.  7:30 pm.  $5.00 or free to members.

For more information, please visit its webpage:  Memberships are available. Located near the Museum, which houses paintings and artifacts, is an excellent seafood restaurant – “The Contented Sole.”  It has outdoor dining as well as parking in front of it. regrets that once again it is having difficulty posting photographs, so none are available at this time.