Experience a Dig in Salem at Public Archaeology Day

Posted on April 8, 2023

Salem, Ore. — Have you ever dreamed of visiting an archaeological dig? This year you can, right here in Salem! On April 22, the Willamette Heritage Center is partnering with Willamette University, the City of Salem, the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde, and the Oregon Archaeological Society to host a public archaeology project on museum grounds.

Public Archaeology Day will be from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Saturday, April 22, at the Willamette Heritage Center, 1313 Mill St. SE. This free event is an opportunity to tour the excavation area and see what is being discovered. While excavation will be left to the professionals, the event will offer family-friendly, hands-on activities to test your archaeology skills and know-how.

Please note, only service animals are allowed on the site.

What are we looking for?

The project is located on ancestral lands of the Kalapuya, whose lives were dedicated to the healthy stewardship of the land; ensuring abundance of materials for everyday life from time immemorial.

In 1841-42, Methodist missionaries built two buildings in the vicinity. One structure that would come to be known as the Parsonage, was originally located near where the Thomas Kay Woolen Mill Building stands today. The second was originally known as the Indian Manual Labor Training School. In 1844, it became the Oregon Institute. Finally, in 1853 it became known as Willamette University.

Through several non-invasive surveying techniques and excavation, archaeologists are hoping to identify the location of these two buildings and to provide greater context to their original purposes through significant moments and places in Tribal history and Euro-American settlement of Salem.

Learn more about the Oregon Mission Indian Manual Labor Training School Archaeology Project.

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