Archeological Digs Highlight Summer Work At Manzanar National Historic Site

Editor’s Note: The following is the first edition of what we hope will be a monthly article written by the staff of the Manzanar National Historic Site.

Their monthly article might be just an update about what they are working on, or it could be much more than that. In any case, we look forward to these monthly stories so we can shine a spotlight on the work of the National Park Service at the Manzanar National Historic Site.


by Carrie Andresen, Volunteer Coordinator and Mandy Harmon, Park Guide

This summer, Manzanar National Historic Site had three separate archaeological digs, thanks to special National Park Service cultural resources funding.

Park archaeologist, Jeff Burton led a crew of dozens of volunteers at three different locations, including the Camouflage Net Factory, the Chicken Ranch, and Merritt Park.

Starting at the Camouflage Net Factory on the July 4 weekend, we cleared three slabs, moved tons of dirt and brush, and sifted the material finding many nails from the burned structures. Along with the new interpretive wayside sign, the clearing has significantly improved the visibility of the area. Visitors can now visualize more clearly the size and scope of operations at the facility.

A month later, we moved to the Chicken Ranch, located just outside the barbed wire fence. Dozens of volunteers cleared slabs and brush, revealing the slaughterhouse, incinerator, and a few co-ops. We also located some previously unrecorded English and Japanese inscriptions in some of the concrete slabs. A few trade beads from the 1850’s were found, significantly adding to the park collection of Paiute era artifacts.

Last, but not least, the archaeological team returned to Merritt Park, the primary location for the 2008 Archaeological Dig.

Volunteers and park staff worked on clearing vegetation, stabilizing the historic locust walls to the upper pond as well as shoveling dirt to uncover the old walkways and locust posts.

We are incredibly thankful for all the time and energy that our volunteers donated. On your next visit to Manzanar, please take the opportunity to visit these locations and if you are interested in volunteering for Manzanar National Historic Site, please contact volunteer coordinator, Carrie Andresen, at (760) 878-2194 extension 2714.


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