Fort Germanna was established by then Lt. Governor of Virginia Alexander Spotswood on the Rapidan in 1714. The first residents were German Protestants, possibly brought over as indentured servants. At the time Fort Germanna was the westernmost English settlement in the New World. Germanna was meant to function like the tribal reservations south of it by acting as a buffer against Indian incursions. Its male occupants are made Rangers-- as much as anything else to exempt them from taxes and to give them some means of livelihood untill crops could be plnated. (Cited, A Chronology of Some Events in the Life of Alexander Spotswood and His Orange County Property, Germanna. Draft Germanna Foundation.)
It was from Fort Germanna that the Knights of the Golden Horseshoe left for their westward expedition in 1716. The fort, however, was not kept up once Germanna became the home of Alexander Spotswood and it soon disappeared, along with the rest of the site.
In 1956, descendents of the original German colonists created the Memorial Foundation of the Germanna Colonies of Virginia, Inc. which was the first to attempt to locate Fort Germanna and the Spotswood Home. The fort, however, was not found until the late 20th century.
Excavations carried out by Mary Washington College from 1985 to 1995 uncovered team small segment of what is believed to be the exterior palisade of Fort Germanna. Much more excavations must be done to determine if this is in fact one wall of the fort and which direction the fort was laid out.
The remains of the palisade of Fort Germanna.