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History & Culture

Passport In Time: Finding Aurora's Chinese

Passport In Time: Finding Aurora's Chinese

Volunteers worked on an excavation "Passport In Time" project in Aurora, Nevada to uncover information about the Chinese immigrants in a ghost town that, during the 1860's, was the second largest city between the Sierra Nevada's and the Mississippi. Aurora was also host to some of Nevada's earliest Chinese immigrants that lived and worked in the western town.

Our nation’s cultural and natural history is intimately tied to the land. If you listen carefully and look around, the stories of ancient times, and times not so distant, will begin to reveal themselves. The Forest Service has recorded more than 380,000 cultural resources on national forests, grasslands and prairie for public use, enjoyment and education. This year, help us celebrate the 50th anniversary of the National Historic Preservation Act.


The Forest Service has a long history of preservation and discovery through management of more than 380,000 recorded cultural resources throughout the 154 national forests, 20 grasslands and one prairie. These resources serve as part of the nation’s historic and cultural atlas among the trees, hills and valleys that make up your federal lands.

The archeological and historical remains and ruins of past cultural groups are, in historic preservation lingo, called “cultural resources.” Throughout the Forest Service they are extensive and include:

  • ancient Indian villages and rock art
  • travel routes and markers
  • military forts, and
  • abandoned mines and mills.

We manage these cultural resources for: 

  • public use, enjoyment and education
  • protection of, as well as protecting sites from vandalism, theft, fire, and effects of federally authorized activities such as timber harvest and road development

    Preservation 50

    During the last century, Congress passed a variety of historic preservation laws to foster the identification, investigation, protection and use of cultural resources on federal lands. The Forest Service follows these federal laws and regulations, and its own manual policies and handbook direction, in the care and management of cultural resources.

    This year marks the 50th Anniversary of one of these laws, the National Historic Preservation Act. Signed by President Lyndon Johnson, the Act marked a fundamental shift in how Americans and the federal government regarded the role of historic preservation in modern life. Implementation of the Act has led to preservation of historic buildings, landscapes and archeology, ensuring that future generations can appreciate and enjoy the rich heritage of our Nation. 

    In celebration of this milestone, we will be sharing some of the great Preservation 50 work that is going on around the nation, so please check back often!


    Of the 380,000 recorded cultural resources on national forests, grassland and prairie, 1,200 sites are listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and 23 are National Historic Landmarks.

    Know before you go: Many, but not all of the cultural resources on national forests, grasslands and prairie are open to visitation. Due to the nature of certain historic sites with tribal significance or sensitivities, they are not open for exploration. If you have a question about a certain site, check it out on the unit’s website ahead of time. 

    When visiting, be a Steward of the Past:

    • Treat remains of past cultures with respect.
    • Tread lightly when visiting heritage sites.
    • Leave artifacts where you find them.
    • Photograph and enjoy rock art, but do not touch fragile surfaces.

      Get Involved

      You can help preserve the past by volunteering your time and talents to a wide-range of projects involving cultural resources on national forests, grasslands and prairie.

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