BARSTOW – The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is reopening the Calico Early Man Site after eliminating public safety hazards. BLM invites the public to visit the site for self-guided tours and to learn more about one of the most significant archaeological sites in the United States.
Located about 15 miles northeast of Barstow, the history of the Early Man site dates back to 1942, when amateur archaeologists discovered what they believed to be primitive stone tools in the area. Fragments were embedded in the sediments of the shoreline of an ancient Pleistocene Era lake, called Lake Manix.
World-renowned paleoanthropologist Louis Leakey’s work at the site between 1964 and 1970 made it famous. Leakey, and his son, Richard Leakey, are well known for their Early Man discoveries at Olduvai Gorge in east Africa.
Archaeologists have classified this site as a possible stone tool workshop, quarry, and camp site. BLM says early nomadic hunters and gatherers may have stopped in this area to fashion the tools they used to survive. These tools may have included stone knives, scrapers, punches, picks, and chopping tools, as well as some saw-like tools called denticulates. Archaeologists have not found human bones or remains here.
In September 2016, the BLM temporarily closed the site due to public safety concerns and vandalism, including stolen ancient artifacts. The site remained closed as vandalism and further degradation of the site increased threats to public safety. Remediation began in January 2022 and included installation of gates, backfill of excavations, and removal of dangerous structures and debris.
Visiting the Early Man Site
The Early Man site is now open for self guided tours. During visits to the site, BLM asks the public to respect and protect California’s history.
“Minimize impact and leave any artifacts you may find,” reads the BLM news release.
Calico Early Man Site is located about 15 miles northeast of Barstow, off Interstate 15. From the Minneola Road exit, follow the signs north about two miles on graded dirt roads to the site. For more information, call the Barstow Field Office at (760) 252-6000.