Nisene Marks State Park Field School
The archaeological field school took place at The Forest at Nisene Marks State Park, in Santa Cruz County, was designed to give students hands-on field experience in an authentic research environment. The study concentrated on the ruins of the Loma Prieta Mill, once the largest lumber operation in the state. The research was focused on the study of the early California timber industry and the role played by this and related industries in regional development and transportation, while also investigating the role of various immigrant groups. There is evidence in the historical record of Chinese, Italian, German, Chilean, and other ethnic groups as contributing to the industry in various occupations.
Students were trained in archaeological survey, artifact identification, and use of professional industry-standard survey technology, such as GPS, Total Station, and GIS mapping. These are essential skills for employment in Cultural Resources Management or governmental agencies engaged in archaeological research and preservation. Such field experience is also critical to those individuals seeking higher education in archaeology to be competitive for entry into graduate school. Students also processed artifacts, generated maps, and wrote sections for the annual field report.
The site is located half a mile from the public parking area at the entrance to the forest under a canopy of second growth redwood trees. Access and permits have been granted by California State Parks for the duration of the project.
The project operated as “commuter field school” with participants arriving each day at 8:30 and departing at 4:30, Monday through Friday. This arrangement serves our students best, many of whom work nights or have family responsibilities.