Wanting to explore my new interest further, I enrolled in a youth archaeology program sponsored by the Haggin Museum in Stockton. We learned how to properly excavate and record archaeological sites within about a 50-mile radius of Stockton. We excavated sites along Little John Creek, Turner Station, Mossdale, Byron Hot Springs and Brovelli Woods north of Lodi. It gave me a wonderful appreciation of the ingenuity of our Native American predecessors.
When I got to college, I studied under the legendary Professor R. Coke Wood at both San Joaquin Delta College and University of the Pacific. Eventually, with Dr. Wood’s guidance, I was able to gain employment as an instructor in field archaeology at Delta College. It had to be the world’s best job, getting to study the amazing world of the outdoors and share it with others. Although I later moved on to other endeavors, I stayed in touch with Dr. Wood and actually managed to see him and have him autograph a copy of his last book. He died the next day. I will ever be grateful to Dr. Woods for sharing his love of both history and the outdoors with me.
Almost everywhere I have gone in our great land, I am always on the lookout for archaeological treasures. I have found woven duck decoys from caves along the now-vanished Lake Lahontan in Nevada that were almost 20,000 years old. I have discovered mortars and pestles in California and once even discovered an incredibly rare dagger made from a human fibula bone.
Almost everywhere you might go in the outdoors is a possible archaeological site. If you spend any time at all outdoors, you have probably stepped right over arrowheads, beads or other archaeological finds. All you have to do is train yourself to look down at the ground every few steps. It really isn’t hard to do — you simply watch where walk.
Another great idea is to learn more about our amazing archaeological heritage. Visit your community museums, check out some books or periodicals from your local library and read them on a rainy winter evening. Then, the next time you’re hiking down that trail to your secret fishing hole or gathering wood for a campfire, you might just spot an arrowhead or a stone pestle. A little archaeological awareness can add a whole new dimension to your outdoor adventures.
Until next time, tight lines.
• Don Moyer is an author and columnist for the Tracy Press. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.