Conservancy Preserves in the Western Region include:
The Borax Lake site is located 75 miles northeast of San Francisco. Considered to be one of the earliest and most significant archaeological sites in California and the entire Pacific Coast, the site contains at least three distinct occupations, the earliest of which is the Folsom culture dating to 10,000 B.C. Learn more about the Borax Lake Site.
Around A.D. 1500, ancient Lake Cahuilla was one of the largest freshwater bodies in North America. Around this oasis, the Desert Cahuilla Indians created a rich and industrious society, building ceremonial rock rings and staging camps and villages along the steadily receding shoreline, before the lake dried up completely by 1541. They also built innovative stone structures to help them harvest the lakes’ fish schooling along the shore. Fish Traps is now part of Anzo-Borrego Desert State Park.
The site, located at the northern end of the Sacramento Valley, was inhabited from 2000 B.C. to the 1880s. The site is large and complex. Seventeen round housepit depressions measuring from 10 to 25 feet in diameter are adjacent to a large, deep, rectangular earthen structure. Large structures such as this one are nearly unheard of in California archaeology. The midden deposit is at least three feet deep and extends more than 300 feet from the center.
The Hotchkiss Mound, a Miwok village located near San Francisco Bay, has a high number of burials and artifacts. Among other things, multi-barbed fish spears, a variety of mortars and pestles, beads, whistles and pipes have been recorded. Most of the artifacts found are in good condition, and the tremendous amount of information uncovered there has allowed the development and refinement of new research techniques.
The Conservancy’s first preserve in Washington. Constructed in 1833 by the Hudson’s Bay Company. Fort Nisqually was the first European settlement on Puget Sound. Excavations have revealed hundreds of trade beads, broken clay tobacco pipes and other items. Visit the reconstructed fort in Tacoma’s Point Defiance Park, which houses historical exhibits. Join us for a photo blog tour of the Fort Nisqually Site.
Manis Mastodon Site
The site was discovered in 1977 when Emanuel Manis decided to dig up his front yard to make a pond. Little did he know that some 14,000 years earlier, water from a melting glacier formed a pond in this very spot that attracted ancient animals and the Paleo-Indians who hunted them. Further examination showed a spear point imbedded in a mastodon vertebrae, making this the oldest archaeological site on the Olympic Peninsula by at least 4,000 years, and the first direct evidence of humans hunting mastodons in North America.
Fort Rock Cave
Overlooking a remote valley in south-central Oregon, the small hollow of Fort Rock Cave has altered prevailing ideas about ancient Americans in the northern Great Basin. Late 1930’s excavations revealed a layer of volcanic ash that later research confirmed was the result of Mount Mazama’s eruption 6,000 years ago, the event that created Crater Lake. Below this layer, numerous artifacts were uncovered, including 70 pairs of woven sagebrush-bark sandals. Fort Rock Cave is now an Oregon State Park.
The site contains thousands of prehistoric herring and salmon bones, the remains of other fish species, stone and bone tools, and hearth and pit features. Radiocarbon dates from the weir stakes show that the tidal wetlands of the Coquille River were fished 800 to 900 years ago. As the river rose, a fishing village was established. The village was destroyed by an earthquake in 1700.
Leonard Rock Shelter
The Leonard Rock Shelter archaeological site is a significant National Historic Landmark. The Rock Shelter is located near the lower end of the Humboldt Valley. The Rock Shelter, named after Zenas Leonard, a member of the famed 1833 Walker Expedition, is formed by a massive geological limestone dike of Jurassic age that outcrops and forms the rear wall of the shelter. The sites primary significance resides in the long continuum of sporadic cultural occupations spanning from 6710 B.C. to A.D. 1400.
Formed when mineral deposits from spring seepage accumulated over hundreds of years, Spring Mound once provided rich sources of plants and animals for native peoples who used the springs and left archaeological evidence in the areas surrounding them. The site contains prehistoric deposits that date from the Late Archaic through the Ceramic period, indicating human use of the site for the last 2,500 years. A later historic component has also been identified. Spring Mound likely served as a water stop for wagon freights and stagecoaches that ran through the Pahrump Valley in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Learn more about Spring Mound in the Nevada desert.