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Northern Headwaters Region








The Five Mile Point Site         
Site Number(s):   21CA63  
County:   Cass, MN  
City Township:   Gould Twp.  
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Several early trading sites are preserved on the shores of Leech Lake by various agencies and private landowners. While many of these sites have the integrity and research potential for listing on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP), few to date have actually been evaluated. One that has is the Five Mile Point site on the east side of Leech Lake.


This site was first recorded in 1977, when historical records led to its discovery in a wood lot near a proposed marina development. Written accounts link the site to fur-trading operations of the 1820s and 1830s.

The Five Mile Point site is located on the east side of the Leech Lake Reservoir.


Walking the Five Mile Point site
View of the Five Mile Point Site.

An investigation performed in 1993 by archaeologists from the Institute for Minnesota Archaeology (IMA) under contract with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers demonstrated the site's NRHP eligibility and assessed the impact of shoreline erosion.

This survey involved surface reconnaissance, shovel testing, and the excavation of a single 1/2 X 1 meter test pit. The shovel tests were dug in a grid at an interval of five meters. Surface elevations were recorded at shovel test locations and outlying points to produce a contour map of the site. Visible surface features were then mapped in relation to the tests and contours, and other maps were generated to show the distribution of various artifacts (like window glass) found in positive shovel tests and among the roots of fallen trees.


British gunflint
British gunflint recovered from the site.

Ceramic pearlware and metal object
Top: Ceramic pearlware with blue print. Bottom: Unidentified cast ferrous (relating to or containing iron) metal object.


Like most sites associated with the fur trade in this area, Five Mile Point has more than one component. Ceramics of both the Blackduck and Sandy Lake types are present, as well as projectile points, flakes from stone tool-making, and fire-cracked rock. The dominant component, however, relates to historic habitation and trade activities.


Metal button, marble and button
Metal button with attached eye (left), ceramic marble (middle), and metal button with four holes and facial decoration.

Metal nails
Metal nails.


Associated with the historic occupation are a number of depressions and embankments, some of which mark the location of a former house. Related materials were recovered from areas in and around the house. Further investigation is needed to reveal the size and layout of the building, its purpose, and the materials and architectural style used in its construction. The associated artifacts could shed light on living arrangements, trade and defense activities, daily practices, and other aspects of site use.


Also found in the vicinity of the former trading house were quantities of fish scales and bones and other food waste. These materials can be used to study diets, butchering and storage practices, and methods of waste disposal. The same data can suggest which local habitats the people who lived at the site exploited for food and it can be compared with similar data from other sites in the Northern Headwaters area, including the historic component at the Horseshoe Bay site. The IMA is currently seeking funds to conduct further research on this important and endangered historic property.

Fish scales and bone
Fish scales and bones excavated from the Five Mile Point site. Analysis of this material could reveal activity and diet of the people at the site.



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Updated 22 Jul 1999