Rock Walls and Wooden Fence Posts: Archeological Inventory and Ethnohistorical Research in Johnson Canyon, Death Valley National Park, Inyo County, California

Author(s): Nancy E. Pearson

Year: 2005


This report describes the results of an archeological inventory project that archeologists from the Western Archeological and Conservation Center (WACC) completed between 11 and 24 March 2001, in the proposed

Hungry Bill's Ranch Historic District (HBRHD), an ethnohistorical and archeological complex of sites and resources in Death Valley National Park (DEVA), California. The inventory was completed so that these

cultural resources, which stretch for nearly two miles along the bottom lands and lower slopes of Johnson Canyon, would be recorded to standards required by Director's Order 28 (DO-28) (NPS 1997) and by the

Standards and Guidelines for Archeological and Historical Preservation (U.S. DOl 1983). Cultural resource managers may use the resultant data to further support the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP)

nomination of these historically significant and valuable properties.

Following the field work, the primary objectives of WACC project DEVA 2001 D included preparing site forms and maps and obtaining site numbers, giving an account of the work, a summary of the analytical results, an interpretive prospectus of information the park may make available to park visitors, and recommendations for the appropriate management of the properties. These objectives are satisfied within this report. Information and suggestions for possible interpretive uses are mentioned throughout the report. Management recommendations are presented in Chapter 4.

During the WACC project DEVA 2001 D fieldwork, WACC archeologists point-plotted thirteen isolated finds and the boundaries of five distinct sites within Johnson Canyon's nearly continuous scatter of historical archeological structures and artifacts. California primary and archeological site records were submitted to the appropriate State office for review and for the assignment of official site numbers. Although a draft NRHP nomination (Greene 1987) has been prepared, the properties had not been archcologically inventoried and recorded.

A literature review supplied answers to several questions about the canyon properties. In the current report, a few present-day photographs of portions of the district are compared to historical ones. The comparisons show remarkable stability in some resources and visible attrition in others. Some damage has natural origins, but other damage is cultural, including that caused by, perhaps, well-intentioned, but misguided reconstructions.

The documentation has also shown that some artifacts and features are late-comers to the properties. For example, a fireplace and a pit toilet at site CA-INY -6246 are likely modem and not historically significant. In

fact, by making the overnight visit more attractive, they may contribute to the negative impacts overall.

Although the resources lie within a less-traveled wilderness area, the HBRHD has significant potential and values for interpretation to the park visitor. Its preservation is also important to the Timbisha Shoshone Tribe.

Periodic monitoring would lessen this site' s vulnerability to cultural and, perhaps, natural damages. Cultural resource managers may determine that stabilization would benefit some features. The Timbisha Shoshone

Tribe would be a valuable partner for developing additional site management strategies and avenues of interpretation.

Cite this Record

Rock Walls and Wooden Fence Posts: Archeological Inventory and Ethnohistorical Research in Johnson Canyon, Death Valley National Park, Inyo County, California. Nancy E. Pearson. Publications in Anthropology ,87. Tucson, Arizona: Western Archeological and Conservation Center. 2005 ( tDAR id: 4350) ; doi:10.6067/XCV8NG4PMM

This Resource is Part of the Following Collections

Temporal Coverage

Calendar Date: 1700 to 1900

Spatial Coverage

min long: -117.065; min lat: 36.067 ; max long: -116.96; max lat: 36.116 ;

Individual & Institutional Roles

Contributor(s): Brandee Pang

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