Campus: CSU Chico -- January 28, 2002
Chico to Explore Bidwell Ranch
The Archaeological Research Program, California State University,
Chico under the direction of Greg white, has received a $27,000 grant
from the California Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) to locate
traces of historic Bidwell Ranch structures.
DPR intends to implement a new historic landscape plan including a
revised interpretive program at Bidwell Mansion. In order to best capture
an appropriate historic landscape, DPR needs to know the whereabouts
of historical buildings long demolished. At the same time, the footprints
of these buildings and associated historical resources (wells, privies,
dumps, etc.) need to be protected.
The job of the Archaeological Research Program is to figure out where
the archaeological traces are located on the grounds and in the vicinity,
without digging. Professor Michael Magliari, Public History Program,
will collaborate in the coordination of background research.
White, with assistance from undergraduate and graduate students from
the anthropology and history departments, will oversee the background
research of notes, sketches, photos, Government Land Office records,
Sanborn Insurance Company maps and city plans.
The hope is that these records will provide a look at the evolution
of the buildings and other features in 10-year increments from the initial
purchase of the original Chico land grant through the turn of the century.
The Archaeological Research Program will use hi-tech specialists to
create digitized pictures of the results of the record search. A specialist
in Computer Assisted Design will create digital versions of each decade
on its own layer. An expert in "remote sensing" technology
will then use a state-of the-art high sensitivity cesium vapor magnetometer,
or CVM (and possibly, ground penetrating radar) to "see into the
soil." These machines are capable of detecting discrete local variation
in composition and density of soils and their contents underground.
The remote sensing machines are effective only in characterizing the
upper 10-15 feet of deposit. However, the features pertinent to the
mansion grounds study should be within the range of the machines.
The remote sensing fieldwork will be tied into sampling grids, and
the results will be converted into color-coded maps or three-dimensional
"spike plots" which will show buildings as square to rectangular
These results can also be turned into digital layers. "We'll juxtapose
the research results with the remote sensing results in an effort to
tease out the traces of individual buildings and features. We'll then
write a report, which will include our findings and recommendations
for future historical resource management at the park," said White.
White said they hope to find traces of buildings, including Bidwell's
original adobe and other work buildings and outbuildings that were part
of the ranch complex.
"It's handy that the research resources and project location are
all within walking distance. I'm excited about building the project
into classroom activity," said White.
The research will begin this week, and field work may wait until soil
moisture drops in mid-spring.
For more information, contact Greg White at 530-898-4360 or e-mail him