NW and XY Trading Post, excavating the site (DHP photo, 1976)
Northwest and XY Company Trading Post Sites
STH 35, town of Union, Burnett County
The Northwest and XY Company Trading Post, also known as Fort Folle Avoine, is a reconstructed early nineteenth century British fur trading post. The archaeological site and the fort reconstruction recall a time when fur trading was Wisconsin's largest industry. In 1802 traders from the rival XY Trading Company and the Northwest Company built trading posts about 100 feet apart at this spot. The Northwest post consisted of a building and a stockade. The XY company location consisted of a single structure with cellar. For the next year they competed for the fur being trapped in the area. In 1803 fearing attacks from American Indians, the XY Company dismantled their building and moved it inside the walls of the Northwest compound. Both companies quickly expanded the site, but fire destroyed the compound a short time later. The site is significant because it may well be the only archeological site where British commercial fur trading activities are preserved.
Forgotten for nearly 170 years, this site was rediscovered in 1969 by Harris Palmer, a geology professor at University of Wisconsin-Platteville. Over a period of five seasons, Palmer and archaeologists from the Wisconsin Historical Society and the Burnett County Historical Society carefully unearthed the charred remains of the trading posts. Using the information collected from the excavations and a careful reading of the diaries of the XY traders, the posts have been painstakingly reconstructed and furnished. Artifacts recovered in the excavations are on display in the nearby visitor's center. The fort is open to the public during the summer season. More information may be found at theForts Folle Avoine Historical Park web site.