Topic ID #32393 - posted 4/23/2014 2:15 AM

Volunteer opportunity: Aurora Townsite 2014: Chinese Woodcutters, Humboldt-Toiyabe NF, NV

Jennifer Palmer

Humboldt-Toiyabe NF
New! , Part II
Main Chinese Camp and Dugout

June 16-20; 23-27; 30-July 4, 2014

Must commit to one full session; may participate in more

Join us on the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest for another historic glimpse into Nevada's "Wild West" heritage! The Aurora (present-day Esmeralda) township was founded in 1860, and was a thriving community until the 1920s. Here, 6,000 people once marauded, wrote, and worked the land and the nearby gold mines. In its heyday (~1860 - l864), the town made its own unique and fascinating mark on the history of the American West. It was distinctive for its somewhat sizeable Chinese population, and its reputation drew the interests of historic notables such as the Daly Gang and writer Samuel Clemens (a.k.a. "Mark Twain"). Clemens' accounts in his work Roughing It, headlines and articles in several historic newspapers, and census records provide a rich record of the town, which we have been working to verify through archaeological investigations over the past several years. This summer we return to Aurora and to the Chinese wood camps to continue our research, and we need your help!

Once again, our PIT project will focus efforts on the Table Mountain area and its surrounds. Here, shortly after the founding of Aurora, and following failed attempts at establishing gold mines, Chinese laborers (and workers of other ethnicities and nationalities) began cordwood-cutting industries to earn enough money to survive. During Session 1, we will focus excavation efforts on the Chinese camps (the dugouts and what appears to have been a corral). During Session 2, we will investigate the historic roads and trails that once linked Aurora and the neighboring town of Bodie to the cutting camps, and we'll explore the dugouts, dwelling features, cutting sites, and wood-processing areas (known as carboneras) that remain, via test excavations and pedestrian survey. During Session 3, depending on how much time we have, we may also continue some of the excavations in Aurora and finish up any remaining survey and Chinese camp excavations. Our project will, once again, supplement an archaeological field school run concurrently by the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR). PIT volunteers will be paired with students who, by this time, will have at least four weeks' field experience! The Forest sponsored similar PIT projects in 2011, 2012 (highlights of the 2011 project can be viewed via a YouTube link under "Aurora Chinese Experience&" listing in the 'Previous Projects' section of this website), and 2013.

We are asking that volunteers arrive the day prior to each session's start date (if not staying for all or multiple sessions). Evening activities during the project will include campfire lectures about the area's history and the ghost towns of Aurora and Bodie and, to end our project "with a bang," we plan to ride into Bridgeport on the 4th of July for one of the best fireworks displays in the country! Our goals will be a little different here and there this time around, but the project promises to be just as fun, interesting, and informative as in years past - we hope to see you this summer!

Number of openings: 15 (5 per session)

Special skills: Must be physically capable of hiking moderate distances each day and sitting/kneeling/standing for extended periods in a variety of weather conditions (mostly hot); previous archaeological excavation, survey, GPS, historic (especially Chinese) artifact identification/history experience helpful, but not required; please, no dogs

Minimum age: 16 years old, under 18 with a responsible adult

Facilities: Undeveloped tent and small trailer (not advised) camping at Aurora; chemical toilets and solar showers provided by FS; volunteers responsible for personal camping equipment, food, drinking and extra water (5+ gallons recommended), and transportation to designated meeting area (high-clearance vehicles may be necessary to reach camp area; carpooling advised)

Nearest towns: Hawthorne, 28 miles; Bridgeport, CA, 28 miles

Applications due: May 19, 2014

For more information, view the full listing here.


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