From the gold rush of the 1800s to Spanish and Indian inhabitants, Northern California has a lot of rich history. Many places have been protected for future generations to learn about and enjoy. But, there are still other places in this part of the state where archaeologists continue to dig up treasures. We’ve included some below, along with a few other special finds we think you’ll be surprised to learn about.
1. Borax Lake
Clear Lake is the closest town to this archaeological site. Also known as Borax Lake-Hodges Archaeological Site, a portion of this site is owned by the Archaeological Conservancy. What makes this area a point of historical interest is that it's believed there is evidence here of the earliest Indian settlers - and when we say "earliest," we mean prehistoric times. Discoveries include what look like spearheads but are called "Clovis Points" after the town in Mexico where these types of ancient tools were first discovered. Visitors please beware that portions of the site are not open to the public. You must exercise extreme caution to not threaten cultural resources. In fact, it might just be better to appreciate from afar 🙂
2. Captain Jack's Stronghold
Captain Kintuash of the Modoc tribe fought against the U.S. Army around the year 1873. With only around 50 of his tribe, he fought from the lava beds that are in the area closest to Tulelare Lake. Holding off armed forces and outnumbered 10 to 1, he became known to the Americans as Captain Jack. After two battles there, the tribe dispersed and they captured Capt. Jack and hanged him for the killing of General Canby and one other officer. Because there is much potentially here left to uncover, it's listed on the Archaeological Sites of the National Register of Historic Places.
3. Dry Lakes Plateau
Not all archaeological digs and sites have to do with bones, spearheads or Indians. This spot is where researchers are trying to understand the environment of the prehistoric hunter-gatherers. See, you learned something new, didn't you?
4. Groenfeldt Site
This archaeological site is a tough one to get to. Tucked away between General Grant Grove and Giant Forest, it's almost inaccessible. Which is probably a good thing, because it's here where archaeologists are uncovering some significant signs of human existence along with a rock shelter from the prehistoric era.
5. Hospital Rock
Hospital Rock got its name in the late 1800s after two separate incidents. One was in 1860 when two men were exploring the Giant Forest and one injured his leg. He was taken by his partner to this rock where American Indians helped bandage his wound. Another gentleman was injured by a gunshot when he got in the way of a shotgun snare trap for bears. Archaeologists find this area fascinating because of the area shows evidence of settlements around the year 1350. For those of you who enjoy a little adventure, there's a trail that leads to a waterfall and you're able to climb the rock. Oh, and there's a picnic area for those of you who'd rather hike and enjoy a nice lunch with friends.
6. Indian Island
You can find this island, aptly named for the village of Tolowat, in Humboldt Bay. This is the place Wyolt Indians used as their political and spiritual center in the late 1800s. Llewellyn Lemont Loud (1879-1946) was a University of California employee and conducted archaeological excavations of the Indian island in 1918. He discovered evidence indicating that area has been inhabited since around 900 AD.
7. Chalfant Petroglyph
Above the town of Bishop in Mono County is where you'll find the Chalfant petroglyph site. Or, for you archaeology nerds, it's also known as CA-MNO-7. A petroglyph is a rock with images carved or engraved in them. They're all over the world and believed to be from the prehistoric ages.
8. The Yellow Jacket Petroglyphs
This site is in Mono County...and that's about all they'll tell us. It's kept pretty secret because of the discover of over 200 petroglyphs that are believed to date between 2950 B.C. and 1850 A.D. Believed to be an area inhabited by the Paiute people, this is where archaeologists have found abundant evidence of their habitation.
Where do you know of some archaeology digs going on in your neck of the woods? Have you ever stumbled up on something really cool from our state’s history?