Two Rivers Flowing

Fort Des Moines No. 2 resources

Fort Des Moines No. 2 and the Origins of Des Moines

The City of Des Moines developed from a small frontier fort at the confluence of the Raccoon and Des Moines Rivers. In recent years archaeological investigations have uncovered evidence of the original fort. The following resources present information about these efforts.

Two Rivers Flowing small Two Rivers Flowing: Recent Archaeology in Downtown, Des Moines, Iowa, July 2005 is a booklet about excavations in the area of the fort's site. (17 MB)
Two Rivers Flowing large 2007 Archaeology Month Poster was produced by Iowa's Office of the State Archaeologist and presents information about the change in the landscape of the Fort Des Moines No. 2 site over time. (10.5 MB)

David Mather and Ginalie Swaim
Iowa Heritage Illustrated, Spring 2005 (Vol. 86, No. 1), published by the State Historical Society of Iowa, Iowa City.“The Heart of the Best Part: Fort Des Moines No. 2 and the Archaeology of a City” Order back issues of Iowa Heritage Illustrated here.

Whittaker, William E.
2008 “Prehistoric and Historic Indians in Downtown Des Moines” Newsletter of the Iowa Archeological Society 58(1):8-9.

2009 “Testing the Effectiveness of Ground-Penetrating Radar at Three Dragoon Forts in Iowa and Wisconsin.” Historical Archaeology 43(4):56–74.
Christopher M. Schoen, William E. Whittaker, and Kathryn E. M. Gourley

2009 Fort Des Moines No. 2, 1843-1846. In Frontier Forts of Iowa: Indians, Traders, and Soldiers, 1682-1862, edited by William E. Whittaker, pp. 161-177. University of Iowa Press, Iowa City.

Other Published Sources:

History of Des Moines and Polk County, Iowa - Johnson Brigham
The Book of Des Moines - Ilda B. Hammer
From Cabin to Capital City - Leroy G. Pratt

On the Web:

Office of the State Archaeologist Fort Des Moines Archaeology Site Excavations -

Library of Congress American Memory -
Bird’s eye view of the city of Des Moines, the capital of Iowa 1868. Drawn by A. Ruger.
- Library of Congress Map Collections: 1500-2004
First House in Des Moines, Des Moines, Polk County, IA - Built In America Collection
Des Moines River Front - Panoramic Photographs Collection

Iowa Biographies Project - Polk County -
Pioneers of Polk County, Iowa, and Reminiscences of Early Days
by L. F. Andrews. Vols. I & II Des Moines: Baker-Trisler Company, 1908.
The History of Polk County, Iowa...Des Moines: Union Hist. Co., 1880
Annals of Polk County, Iowa, and City of Des Moines
by Will Porter. Des Moines: Geo. A. Miller Pr. Co., 1898.

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