Archaeological Investigations at Lost City, Calaveras County, California

In 1998 personnel of the Institute for Archaeological Research, California State University, Stanislaus, began a program of recording and thoroughly documenting the noted historical site called Lost City. Located in a remote part of Calaveras County, Lost City was constructed in the late 1870s by one Eugene Barbe. Consisting of a dozen or more structures built of dry-laid field stone, Lost City may have been an early-day Icarian Colony. The Icarians were an idealistic commune, established to "determine the best system of political and social organization which would best secure the happiness of the human race," as its founder, Etienne Cabet, expressed it. Apparently Lost City was occupied only a short time, for by 1896 the little settlement was abandoned and its buildings left to the whims of nature. Long the subject of speculation as to why it was built and what purpose it served, Lost City remained enigmatic until the CAL FIRE-sponsored investigations of 1998. A large part of the site has been comprehensively researched and documented, although some of its components, including prehistoric remains, require further investigations. The eventual fate of Lost City is, however, in doubt, since it is on private land and efforts toward its preservation have not been forthcoming. Even so, Lost City is an important part of the historical heritage of Central California.