Barstow Field Office

Calico Early Man Site


calico master pits

Calico Master Pits


calico old office

Calico Old Office




Calico Early Man Site is located about 15 miles northeast of Barstow, California, off Interstate 15. From the Minneola Road exit, follow the signs north about two miles on graded dirt roads to the site. The history of this site dates back to 1942, when amateur archaeologists discovered what they believed to be primitive stone tools in this area. Fragments were embedded in the sediments of the shoreline of an ancient Pleistocene Era lake, called Lake Manix.


technician at work

Technician at work


technician at work

Technician at work



technician at work

Technician at work


Archaeology Technicians at work in Master Pits


This was the only New World archaeology project undertaken by the renowned archaeologist-paleontologist, Dr. Louis S.B. Leakey.  Leakey, and his son, Richard, are well known for their Early Man discoveries at Olduvai Gorge in east Africa. Dr. Leakey first visited the area in 1963. He came to examine artifacts discovered in a commercial excavation by Ruth Dee Simpson, a San Bernardino County archaeologist. Leakey continued to act as Project Director until his death in 1972. Ruth Dee Simpson died in 2000.

 lewis leakey

Lewis Leakey examining skulls from Olduvai Gorge, Africa

 ruth simpson 

Ruth D. Simpson at Calico Early Man Site in 2000


Archaeologists have classified this site as a possible stone tool workshop, quarry, and camp site. Perhaps early nomadic hunters and gatherers 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. No human bones or remains have be found here.


guided tour

Guided Tour




interpretive program

Interpretive program


flint napping demonstration

Flint napping demo


Guided tours and interpretive activities

The alluvial fan deposits in this area are uniquely deep stratum layers that may represent the oldest evidence of human occupation in the Americas. In 1980, Drs. James Bischoff, Richard Ku, and Roy Shlemon estimated that the soils at this site may date back to over 200,000 years, using a uranium-thorium dating process on the surrounding strata.

technician at work 

Archaeologist at work

 calico rock samples 

Examples of Artifacts



Due to safety concerns, the Calico Early Man site is closed until further notice. Please call the Bureau of Land Management Barstow Field Office at (760) 252-6000 for further information.