Archaeological Excavations at the CDF Murphys Fire Station, Calaveras County, California

In January, 1999, personnel of the Institute for Archaeological Research, California State University, Stanislaus, conducted exploratory excavations of areas within the grounds of the CAL FIRE Hurley Fire Station. The purpose of the excavations was to determine whether significant archaeological remains might be encountered when proposed construction was undertaken to remodel and improve station facilities. By chance, the CAL FIRE station is located on part of a prehistoric archaeological site: the excavations were undertaken to recover data that might be lost due to the proposed construction. Fortunately, the excavations, supervised by CAL FIRE Archaeologist Linda Sandelin, revealed that the proposed construction would not affect significant archaeological resources. However, several hundred flakes of obsidian, natural glass used by the Native Americans to make arrowpoints and other artifacts, were found. Trace-element analysis of these flakes reveals that the obsidian came from the Casa Diablo obsidian source, located some sixty miles east of Hurley on the east side of the Sierra Nevada mountain range. This information helps to reveal prehistoric trade routes and the extent to which the prehistoric inhabitants of the site interacted with their neighbors in the outside world. The excavations at Hurley stand as a good example of the fact that useful information can be obtained from prehistoric sites, even those that have been disturbed or impacted during the decades since they were originally occupied.