Anthropological Studies Center: Uncovering the Past

asc_csvra.jpgTucked in the hills between Livermore and Tracy lay the ruins of one of the largest industrial operations in California. A century after its demise, only the scarred landscape, hidden foundations, and handfuls of artifacts remain.

Using undergraduate and graduate students, along with staff archaeologists, SSU's Anthropological Studies Center (ASC) has completed their study of the mines, kilns, towns, and trails within the Carnegie State Vehicular Recreation Area (CSVRA).

The ASC worked under an inter-agency agreement with the California Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR), who want to stabilize the landscape impacted by decades of mining done at the turn of the 20th century.

This area was once part of a great inland sea that spanned what is now the Central Valley. Adjacent lagoons collected sands, clays, and organic matter during wet and dry periods. Over millions of years, these were buried, compressed, and uplifted to form alternating layers of high-quality coal, glass sand, and red brick and porcelain clays.

Two wealthy brothers, John and James Treadwell, built the massive Tesla mining complex that extracted all these materials and sent them by rail to their pottery complexes and glass work in Corral Hollow, Tracy and Stockton. Natural disasters and poor financial management doomed the operations.

ASC archaeologists and SSU students recorded 70 archaeological sites across the CSVRA for DPR. The project provided invaluable professional training for the students and resulted in the first completed systematic archaeological study of the area for DPR. Future projects focusing on specific sites are slated over the next year.

For more information about the Anthropological Studies Center, visit their website at To learn more about the Carnegie State Vehicular Recreation Area and its history, visit the website at

Photo above: SSU Cultural Resources Management Program graduate students in front of the Carnegie Lime Kiln, operated in the late 19th century. Back row (from left to right): Annamarie Guerrero Leon, Rut Ballesteros, Kathleen Baber, field director Michael Newland. Front row: Carrie Reichardt and Kate Erickson. Photo by ASC.

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