Pieces of Annadel history

  • State Department of Parks and Recreation archeologist Breck Parkman looks for spent military shell casings, Thursday April 30, 2009 at Annadel State Park. The shell casings are leftover from military exercises that were held back in the 1960's. (Kent Porter / The Press Democrat)2009

It?s not ancient history, but archaeologists are adding the Vietnam-era war games staged by Marine Corps Reserves to the complex story of Annadel State Park.

?It?s part of the cultural landscape,? said Breck Parkman, a senior state parks archaeologist, who has been collecting spent cartridges, C-ration cannisters and shell clips for the past decade. ?The Marine Corps Reserves is the last chapter of this history.?

Annadel, a state park since 1970, was prized by Pomo Indians as long as 8,000 years ago for its abundance of obsidian used to shape arrowheads, spears and knives. Obsidian flakes still cover several hillsides.

Beginning in the 1870s, stone masons quarried basalt rock that built St. Rose Church and the Railroad Square depot in Santa Rosa and repaved San Francisco after the 1906 quake. They left behind a narrow-gauge railroad, tools and wheelbarrows.

More recently Annadel was a ranch and hop farm, and homestead sites are still readily visible. Now it?s a popular state park used last year by 97,000 hikers, runners, bicyclists and equestrians.

?It?s a working-class history,? Parkman said. ?This park has a lot of history without a lot of names. We don?t have important people living here, no Gen. Vallejo or Jack London or William Randolph Hearst.?

Instead it is a land shaped by blue-collar hands.

?I can picture on a hot summer day a Marine hiking up and down hills with a 50-pound pack and a rifle on his shoulder,? Parkman said.

Last week, in a short walk through Live Oak Meadow, where purple lupine was blooming, one shell casing was found half buried in the trail and another was sitting on top of fresh dirt left by a gopher.

They are among the 50 shell casings Parkman has found in areas of the 5,000-acre park. They eventually will be part of a history display in the new park center that is under construction.

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