Research Manuscript Series

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Santa Clara, Calif. : Santa Clara University, Department of Anthropology and Sociology


The following essay, which is not a finished treatise upon any aspect of the early environmental history of the northern Santa Clara Valley, is also not intended to be a manual of procedures for investigating that subject. Although I would hope that elements ofboth purposes can be found here, the intention, more generally and tentatively, is to point out a few possibilities that may be incorporated into more rigorous and, in terms of practical consequences, more important future investigations by others. Because of the variety and incompleteness of the approaches that are followed here, no attempt has been made to quantify the reliability of source information according to algorithms of a sort that nowadays are applied in historical-environmental investigations. On the other hand, I can call attention to unpublished source material presented not only in the text and figures but in the appendixes, for example the full account of a transit of the valley by Juan Crespi in 1772, and previously untranslated descriptions by the explorers Rivera and Font. Font's account, as augmented from a recently discovered text, seems to make it clear that the redwood that he described and measured in 1776 was the present Palo Alto tree, a long-accepted fact that unfortunately I once doubted! This publication provides a way of drawing a line, so to speak, under a total of many years of sometimes desultory, sometimes intense personal engagement with the topic-years during which greater alterations took place on the land than most of those earlier changes that were being investigated, and during which, also, the ease of access to governmental records and other sources changed, not always for the better.

Part of

Research Manuscript Series;11


Skowronek, Russell K.



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