Monitoring Oregon Preserves with the Western Office:

This past week, the Western Office staff traveled to Oregon.  The busy time spent in Oregon included  visiting the locations of a few new projects, and meeting with an archaeologist to gather more intimate knowledge about a specific project site, and most enjoyable of all getting to monitor two of TAC’s amazing current preserves in the state.  Here is a closer look at the two TAC preserves monitored.

The first TAC preserve we visited was the Mazama Restoration Dunes Preserve located in the Fort Rock Basin of southeastern Oregon.  The 40-acre parcel was acquired in 1994, and is also known as “Kelly’s Site”.

Overview of the Preserve
Overview of the Preserve

The site was excavated by Bill Cannon, Bureau of Land Management archaeologist, and geomorphologist Dr. Peter Mehringer who found the site to have excellent stratigraphy.  There is evidence of human occupation both prior and after the eruption of Mount Mazama, which occurred roughly 7,000 years ago.  The eruption left a visible layer of ash and pumice that is easily discernible during archaeological excavations.  This is the only site in the area to have cultural material found in direct association with the undisturbed deposits of ash and pumice.

Obsidian flakes in the foreground and Western Regional Director Cory Wilkins in the background
Obsidian flakes in the foreground and Western Regional Director Cory Wilkins in the background.

Cannon and Mehinger excavated a fire hearth which was dated to 6,650 years ago.  The hearth contained large amounts of charcoal, obsidian flakes, and faunal remains.  Analysis of the faunal remains revealed that most belonged to waterfowl and fish.  While the current environmental conditions include dry, arid desert-like conditions, the paleoenvironmental conditions were markedly different which included lakes and wetlands.

Close up of obsidian flakes on the surface.
Close up of obsidian flakes on the surface.

The other TAC preserve monitored is the Patricia Campbell Preserve in northeastern Oregon.  This 80-acre parcel was acquired in 2008.  The preserves contains a large rock shelter, roughly 100 meters long, adjacent to a creek.  The rock shelter was used as a habitation spot as evidenced by the midden soil and lithic debris observed on the surface.

view of the canyon/creek from the rock shelter
View of the canyon/creek from the rock shelter.

On the walls of the rock shelter are red and white pictographs depicting various shapes and elements.  No formal research has been conducted at the site.

Pictographs with Human Forms
Pictographs with Human Forms

The Patricia Campbell Preserve is not easily accessed and TAC personnel had an adventurous drive  to the site in a Kubota side-by-side by the Preserve’s steward.  The steward owns the property adjacent to the preserve and keeps a watchful eye on the archaeology.


Pictographs In Shelter

Learn about Another Amazing Site in Oregon that TAC Saved: Fort Rock Cave

Fort Rock Cave in the News 2015 : Fort Rock Cave, site of oldest sandals, open for visits during UO archeological dig

Find out More about visiting Fort Rock Cave, by tour only, through Oregon State Parks


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