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Archaeology Projects

Boy Scout Chimney on the trails

The Adobe

Our researchers have identified and excavated an adobe wall foundation, dating to the mid-1800s. The excavation revealed formal brick making and construction, historic glass and ceramics, square nails and wood artifacts.

Caretaker's House

A burned historic house, along with the chicken coop and barn, belong to the railroad era (late 1940s) and served as the caretaker's home and amenities.  Among the historic artifacts found are home furnishings and building materials, ceramics, glass and children’s toys.

Recent archival investigations have revealed that the chimney situated to the north of the Caretaker’s House was built in conjunction with a cabin by a Boy Scout troop in the early 1930s. As a child, Dean Hamblin recalled taking the family’s trash from his home—the Caretaker’s House—and burning it in the chimney. Additional research investigating the Boy Scout Chimney is underway, but historic artifacts recovered during surface collection include glass bottles, window glass, ceramics, a metal button and a possible watch clasp.


There are four historic water derricks still standing at the Springs Preserve.  They were constructed to facilitate drilling and were left in place to allow for continued maintenance of the wells. The derricks have been preserved and continue to be monitored for stability.

The Dugout

A semi-subterranean house dating from 1870 to 1900 was first identified on this site in the 1970s. This may have been built and inhabited by John Howell, the first African American to own land in the Las Vegas Valley, and his Paiute wife, Mary. Euro-American and Native American artifacts including bullet casings, ceramics and glass, chipped stone and prehistoric ceramics have been found at the dugout.


A pithouse representing an Ancestral Puebloan dwelling (circa 700) has been documented and partially excavated at the Preserve, unearthing artifacts such as chipped and ground stone, ceramics, shells and charcoal.

Thanks to remote sensing technologies, the possible existence of two additional pithouses in close proximity has also been revealed. Rarely utilized in Southern Nevada, remote sensing techniques such as ground-penetrating radar (GPR), magnetometry and electric resistivity use non-destructive energy waves to locate subterranean archaeological remnants.

Spring Houses

The three Spring Houses at the Preserve – Little, Middle and Big – represent an early phase in the development of water procurement systems in the Las Vegas Valley (circa 1911). To date, only the Little Spring House has undergone archaeological investigations and reconstruction. The artifacts recovered reflect varied uses and include glass, bullet casings, building materials, chipped stone and prehistoric ceramics.


Video: Dinosaur Tracks

Archaeologist showing off dinosaur tracks

Springs Preserve archaeologist Nathan Harper shows off dinosaur tracks found in a landscaping rock right here at the Springs Preserve!


Photos: Trails

Trees along trails

Explore our Trails, where archaeological discoveries await.

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