History Almost Forgotten: Retracing the Bonanza-Lakeview Stage Road and Yreka Trail
Fremont-Winema National Forest, Oregon, 2010
By Michelle Durant, PIT Leader
Both of our sessions were successful. During the first, we used our metal detectors to retrace portions of the Bonanza-Lakeview wagon road where it crosses Forest Service (FS), Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and private lands, between Barnes Valley and Gerber Reservoir in south-central Oregon. We had five PIT volunteers whose assignments were divided between the FS Archaeologist, Michelle Durant, and the BLM Archaeologist, Brooke Brown. A third party (made up of local residents - descendants of the Gerber Family who originally homesteaded the area), joined in the fun and worked with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Archaeologist, Rachel Gebauer, to locate the route that passed through their private lands. It was a real treat to get together each morning and late afternoon with these folks; we learned a lot about local history from them. As an amusing aside, none of the three archaeologists had ever worked with metal detectors before, so that was a new experience!
During the second session, we grabbed our metal detectors and walked a portion of the Yreka-Canyon City Minor's Trail, which is located at the northern end of Winter Rim between Summer and Silver Lakes in central Oregon. This portion of the project was entirely on FS land and led by Michelle Durant. Five PIT volunteers joined this session. At the beginning of the week, we were treated to an awesome electrical storm that briefly broke up the stagnant hot weather. We took a couple of side trips wherein we visited a local rock art site and a site called Fremont Point, where coins from John C. Fremont's Second Topographical Expedition (1843) were previously found.
One big thing we learned from all of this is that using metal detectors to do survey is a slow, tedious process! We did find a few artifacts from the late 19th century, but the most rewarding part of the entire project was the camaraderie enjoyed among the PIT volunteers, the local descendants, and the FS, BLM, and NRCS staff.