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Lecture explores history of the Oregon high desert
Photos and Story by James Hill
The Washington County Historical Museum at the Rock Creek Campus is sponsoring the Oregon Chautauqua program by Dennis L. Jenkins of the University of Oregon Museum of Natural History entitled, “Where the Buffalo and the Camel Roamed: Oregon’s Earliest High Desert Occupants.” This public program will take place from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday, July 19, at the museum. Admission is $3 per person and free to PCC students and staff.
Jenkins draws on his years of experience with more than 50 archaeological investigations in Central Oregon to illuminate the questions surrounding the earliest occupants of the high desert region. In the 1930s, Luther Cressman’s excavations in Fort Rock Cave, Catlow Cave and the Paisley Caves led him to postulate that people may have lived there as early as the Late Pleistocene era.
Unfortunately, few other researchers accepted his excavation results or interpretations. Later work at the Fort Rock and Connley Caves by Stephen Bedwell suggested that they were occupied 12,000 years ago, but the tantalizing question remained whether the archaeological data supported an even earlier date for human occupation.
For the past five years, Jenkins has directed reinvestigation efforts at the Connley and Paisley Caves. He will discuss the process and results of his investigations, bringing audiences the most up-to-date information about the two oldest known sites in Oregon.
Jenkins’s program is made possible by funding from the Oregon Council for the Humanities, an independent, nonprofit affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. OCH is dedicated to providing opportunities for life-long learning in communities throughout Oregon.