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Officials OK agreement to allow public access to Fort Daniel

LAWRENCEVILLE -- The archaeologists and historians who fought to preserve historic Fort Daniel will take charge of its maintenance.

Commissioners approved an agreement Tuesday with the Fort Daniel Foundation, a group of volunteers, to care for the site along Braselton Highway where soldiers once stood guard over the Georgia frontier.

While the county does not currently have funding for a park at the site, which the government purchased last year for $241,000, the agreement allows foundation members to host educational events, including its annual Frontier Faire, officials said.

The deal, which gives the foundation the responsibility for maintenance of the site with an annual county stipend of $5,000, is similar to an agreement with the Gwinnett Historical Society, which maintains the historic home of county forefather Elisha Winn and puts on an annual fair open to the public.

"I expect a very good and wonderful place for the public to visit and learn about the history of Gwinnett County," Commissioner John Heard said.

"This is exciting," Chairwoman Charlotte Nash added.

According to James D'Angelo, an archaeologist who has spent his retirement on the project, Fort Daniel replaced an earlier fort as the westernmost post of colonial Georgia during the War of 1812. It predates the founding of the county and represented a key piece of a supply chain during the War of 1812, as the terminus of the original Peachtree Road, linking it to Fort Peachtree along the Chattahoochee River.

While the walls have long been gone, members of the Gwinnett Archaeological Research Society have conducted digs at the site, finding artifacts including nails and pottery from the time period. The foundation, D'Angelo said, plans to continue the research and provide educational programming.

In light of a recent scandal involving a Mill Creek athletic association, Heard said special attention was made to make sure the county has oversight of the foundation.