Archaeologists begin digging in Downtown Fresno in preparation for high speed rail

FRESNO, Calif.

There wasn't much business at the Wildcat adult book store Monday, once backhoes and archaeologists went to work. They are digging four foot deep trenches, looking for artifacts from the late 1800's and early 1900's.

The first dig, gave them some insight into the businesses that were once there.

"We did find one small deposit of just essentially a smear of burned artifacts, kind of in the back of this lot over here. Just a few items, these are just some of the items, some pottery and this can be dated by looking at the makers mark on the back," archaeologist Dana McGowan said.

The High Speed Rail Authority does not want any surprises once construction begins, so they have asked for permission to dig at seven locations in Downtown Fresno. Much of the dirt that will be uncovered is in historical Chinatown.

"We don't want to be in construction and finding something very significant like they did over on 99 when they found the dinosaurs. We don't want to get there. We want to make sure that we attempt, as much as we can to find as much as we can before the big trucks come in," Benjamin Camarena with the High Speed Rail Authority said.

Archaeologists found pieces of glass, bone, nails and broken ceramics they say are definitely from before the turn of the century.

Every dig is a gamble, but archaeologists felt the location on G Street and Fresno may be promising because in addition to a restaurant, saloon, hotel and stable- there were also homes here- which means a well nearby, outhouse and buried trash. Monday nothing of huge historical significance was located.

Archaeologists say based on what they found today, it is likely this area was cleared out before it was paved and new buildings were built. Tuesday they will dig up a dirt lot at Tulare and G Street, hoping to find more treasures.

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