The Beaver Creek Trail Crossing Site is located in extreme southwest Seward County, Nebraska, and is approximately four miles from the current town of the same name. The site was occupied from 1862 until 1871. Historical documents, including primary and secondary sources, report structures and activities located along both the east and west banks of the creek. A photograph of one of these buildings survives and is indicative of the types of structures that were present at the site. One of the buildings that stood at the site operated as a road ranch, a type of business that catered to the needs of the people traveling on the trail and the draft animals. The Beaver Crossing road ranch, owned by the Reed family, was located in an ideal spot for such an enterprise as it was at a place where the Beaver Creek was easily forded. This would have created a bottle neck on the trail, leaving the travelers with time to take advantage of the services offered by the road ranch.
The investigation of this site was first undertaken in the summer of 2005 as part of the University of Nebraska–Lincoln field school under the supervision of Dr. Paul Demers. The goal of the excavation was to find and identify structural remains from the road ranch, with the further goal of understanding what types of activities took place at the ranch and how they are visible in the archaeological record. During the excavation, a Native American occupation of the site was discovered. This was not surprising as the relative abundance of water and timber that made the site appealing to Euro-Americans would have had similar appeal to Native Americans. The Native American occupation is not the primary focus of the project, but the artifacts were analyzed and curated.
This is an interim report as excavation will take place as part of the 2006 field school. Few concrete conclusions can be offered in the report; the chapters represent the best interpretation possible given the current number and variety of artifacts recovered from the site. It is the goal of the 2006 excavations to confirm several working hypotheses, to be discussed later, through the addition of more data.