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Red Wing Locality








The Adams Site         
Site Number(s):   47PI12  
County:   Pierce, WI  
City Township:   Hager City  
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The Adams site, located in Pierce County, Wisconsin, is one of several major village sites within the Red Wing Locality. The site, which includes a habitation area surrounded by a large mound group, is currently bisected by Trunk Highway 63. A majority of the area is now used as farmland and pastureland.

Aerial view of the Adams Site
Aerial view of the Adams Site (47PI02), Pierce County, Wisconsin.

Unfortunately, because it has been known for a long time, the site has been the target of private collectors. Archaeologists have also recovered numerous artifacts that can be used to understand the past.


Excavations at the Adams Site
Soil colors are sometimes easier to see when moist. Archaeologists spray the excavation with water before mapping soil profiles.

The Adams site was first mapped by T.H. Lewis in October of 1885. Unlike some of the other Red Wing Locality villages, Lewis noted prehistoric pottery sherds and other artifacts lying on the ground as he was mapping. After Lewis a number of other 19th-century researchers visited Adams, but formal examination was not undertaken until 1981 by the Institute for Minnesota Archaeology.


Archaeologists from the Institute for Minnesota Archaeology conducted a surface survey in 1984, recovering a variety of artifacts, including ceramics and lithics, from the Adams site. Artifact groupings were found throughout the village. Ceramics were concentrated in one area and end scrapers were concentrated in another area. Few artifacts were found between these clusters.

Screening to recover tiny artifacts
Screening to recover tiny artifacts, clues to past lifeways at the Adams Site.

The presence of the concentrations suggests different areas where activities took place. For example, separate concentrations of projectile points and net sinkers indicate that one area was used to produce hunting implements and another to make tools for fishing.

Numerous shells and Oneota ceramics were excavated from the concentrations. Fragments of galena, a lead ore not native to Minnesota, were also found, suggesting trade or contact with other cultures.


Adams site artifacts
Triangular projectile points are typical finds on Oneota sites.

Adams site artifacts
Bone awls (leather working tools) excavated from Adams.

Chunkey stones, possibly used in a game of Mississippian origin, were also found at the site. The presence of chunkey stones and galena fragments is a sign of a well-developed trade network.

At the time people lived in the village, the site was located on Lake Pepin, which has since migrated southwards. The large numbers of shells found at the site suggest the lake was an important resource to the people.


The results of the investigations show that the site is a single-component Oneota village. It was occupied around the same time as the other villages in the Red Wing Locality. The ceramics are similar to those of the Bartron site, and to some parts of the area's other villages.

Cataloging artifacts
Avocational archaeologist accessions and catalogs artifacts for record keeping. The catalogs can be used for locating artifacts and conducting analyses.

Scientific techniques were used to help the archaeologists discover when people lived at the Adams site. Core samples of wood, buried in the sediments on the river front below the site, gave a date of approximately 1250 CE.



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Updated 30 June 1999