Chinese Tree of Heaven
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Chinese Tree of Heaven


Chinese Tree of Heaven
18 bedrock mortars (including 5 bowl mortars), 3 metates, 2 cupules, incised rocks, rock rectangles, rock walls, and rock-lined pathways

The Chinese Tree of Heaven tree (Ailanthus altissima) was introduced to California by the Chinese during the Gold Rush. The presence of this tree along with the dry-laid masonry skill apparent in a few of the rock enclosures near the power tower points to a Chinese presence here in the past. But most of the stacked-rock features at this site are crudely laid and have no apparent function, e.g., a straight section of short-statured wall attaching to nothing. It is unlikely that practical Chinese immigrants, who knew how to dry-lay an acceptable wall in the Chinese style, would have undertaken any such crude, pointless projects.

To see more about dry-laid masonry in California go to: Stone Fences and Corrals, Quick Ranch Stone Wall, or Chinese Walls.

We believe the Yrgin or other Ohlones constructed most of the rock walls and enclosures found here. We believe these walls and enclosures had ceremonial functions.

Looking at the site, which lies under and around the power tower. Note the rock alignment pointing toward the tower.


This partially ruined stacked rock rectangle stands near the headwaters of a tributary of Dry Creek.


Bob walks along one of the rock alignments found here. This crude “wall” has no apparent function.


This huge bowl is like no other we’ve encountered anywhere. The inner surface is smooth, and there is no cupule or cone at its very bottom.


A rock wall prayer ring lies south of the main site. It is not a full enclosure but is partially open on one end. No one who sees it believes it was built to be a corral or a sheep or pig pen. Inside the ring there are flat areas that could have been dance floors.


Another view of the prayer ring, highlighting the rock-lined pathway down to it. This rock-lined pathway connects the prayer ring to the mortars and housepits at this site. The rock-lined pathway continues on to the site we call “the North Knoll.”


Looking up toward the prayer ring and rock-lined pathway. The prayer ring appears at the right margin, just above the trees.

Photograph by Bob Bardell

Inside the prayer ring.


One should secure permission before visiting this site.