In 1987, the City of San Luis Obispo decided to build a multi-story parking structure on
Palm Street, one block west of the Town Hall.  In the late 1800's the block had contained
the City's Chinatown.  In the late 1700's and early 1800's, the block contained adobe
structures associated with Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolusa.  From April 20th through
June 2nd, paid and volunteer archaeologists laid out a grid, excavated, recorded at least
36 historic features and recovered more than 5-tons of artifacts.

Though funds were available for the excavation of the materials, no funds were left for
final cleaning, sorting, cataloging and analysis.  The materials were labeled by location,
placed in zip-lock bags, stored in burlap sacks, and placed in a 40-foot cargo container.  
Ten years later, that container was open and our project began.   
The excavation was conducted by Archaeological Resource Services under the direction of
Katherine Flynn and William Roop.  Assisting in the field were Jo Ann San Filippo, Jeff
Parsons, Arlene Yip, Mat Baldzikowski, Jim Schmidt, Dana Robertson, John Berry, Phil
Williamson, Mat Quinlivan, Pat Holden, Diane Pierce, Dave Story, Cathy Jacobs, Dave
Reynoldson, William Sawyer, Bob Johnson, Lei Lynn Odom, Jim Miller, William Glover,
Maggie Doyle, Jim Moriarity, N. Rhodes, Jamie Karl, Nelle Lyons, Cris Lowgren, Bob
Vessely and Rod MacNeil.  Many local volunteers also joined the crew.
Site maintained as a public service by Archaeological Research, PO Box 1353, Lucerne, CA 95458.
The San Luis Obispo Chinatown Dig
History and Prehistory of Lake County
and Beyond
Wu Bowls
Opium Use
Historic Features
The project area was gridded out.  Wherever a historic feature was encountered it was
assigned a number and a crew for excavation.

Materials from each feature were taken to a washing area where they were cleaned, dried
and bagged based on the feature and location they came from.  Basic sorting and
hand-cataloging was conducted for many of the items.  

As funds and time ran out, much material was placed in labeled zip-lock bags that were
then placed in large burlap sacks.  These sacks were labeled by location or feature and all
were stored in a City storage yard, sealed in a large cargo container.

Members of the San Luis Obispo County Archaeological Society installed shelving in the
cargo container for the boxed cataloged materials.  The rest of the container was filled
with 55-gal garbage cans containing the burlap sacks of unsorted cultural material.  
Intact adobe bricks indicating a Mission period structure.
A crowded crew with something being discovered in every grid square
Taking notes on Feature 6 (Chinese trash pit)
Recovering and bagging artifacts from a Chinese trash feature
Recording the cobble-stone foundation of a mission period adobe building
Aerial shot of excavation showing stone adobe foundations and dark soil Chinese refuse pits.
As time and funds ran out, materials were labeled and bagged in burlap sacks.
Field notes and maps were made for each excavation square