CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- One of the first projects of the National Society of the Colonial Dames of America in the state of West Virginia was to establish a marker on the site of Fort Lee.
That was in 1917, and the small marble monument has been restored probably eight or nine times since, most recently this year.
The marker's location on Kanawha Boulevard makes it an easy target for vandalism. The sundial has been stolen from the top of the marble pedestal, which was cracked from exposure to the elements. The bronze plaques were so dirty that they were difficult to read.
Surrounded by a black wrought-iron fence, the sundial sits on the north side of the Kanawha River, between Brooks and Morris streets, the approximate site chosen for a fort in April 1788.
Col. George Clendenin and a company of rangers marched from Camp Union -- now Lewisburg -- to the Kanawha Valley to build a fort as part of a defense system against Indians.
Clendenin already owned more than 1,000 acres, from the mouth of the Elk River stretching three miles to the east and for a mile up the Elk River -- essentially what is now downtown Charleston and the East End. He paid 5 shillings for it, according to "Charleston 200" by John G. Morgan and Robert J. Byers.
A native of Scotland, Clendenin had become prominent in Greenbrier County and served in the Virginia General Assembly. He saw the Kanawha Valley as a highway to the West.
The fort itself was a two-story log structure, smaller than a mobile home. It was surrounded by stockade measuring about 250 by 175 feet.