Published in Views of a Coastal Wilderness: Twenty Years of Research at Big Creek Reserve, January 1, 2001, pages 1-18. John Smiley, Rohana Mayer, and Eric Engles (Eds.). Copyright 2001 by the University of California Natural Reserve System.
Archaeological research began at Big Creek in 1983 with the first of four summer field classes offered by UC Santa Cruz and UC Davis. For the most part, this was the first systematic research to be undertaken in the South Coast Range or on the Sur coast, and certainly the first of any consequence in the Big Creek drainage. Before 1983, archaeologists had tended to overlook Big Sur (however, see Baldwin 1971) because it seemed unlikely that it had been a major demographic or cultural center for prehistoric peoples. While it remains true that populations in Big Sur were probably lower than in the more heavily settled San Francisco Bay and Santa Barbara areas, our studies have shown that there is a great deal more to Big Sur prehistory than previously suspected. DC Berkeley archaeologists conducted surveys and one excavation (Pohorecky 1976) between 1950 and the early 1960s, but most of the earliest work was limited to areas immediately adjacent to Highway 1. In 1983, the number of known archaeological sites in the Big Creek area was very small, and most of these were located on or very near Highway 1 and the shoreline.