Archeological Stewardship Program at Lands End

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Date: May 13, 2011
Contact: Skot Jonz, (415) 561-4734
Contact: Alexandra Picavet, (415) 786-8021

Have you ever wanted to be involved in an archeological project? For the next four weeks neighbors, students, and anyone interested in uncovering the history of San Francisco are invited to participate in a unique Archeological Stewardship Program at Lands End. National Park Service Archeologist, Leo Barker and his team of experts, will conduct archeological excavations to recover historical artifacts before construction begins on the Lands End Lookout visitor facility near the Cliff House.

Merrie Way, also known as the Sutro Pleasure Grounds, was originally constructed out of amusement rides recovered from an 1894 Midwinter Fair held in Golden Gate Park. Adolph Sutro, then mayor of San Francisco, incorporated these rides into the opening of his newly-constructed Cliff House, Sutro Baths, and a scenic railroad around Lands End. Between the Ocean Terrace railroad station and the Baths along Lobos Avenue, a series of concession stands offered food and services to the public. The amusement park and its "stands" lasted around 15–20 years before they were eventually dismantled. After that, the public gravitated to the flatlands below the Cliff House on Ocean Beach with the construction of other amusement areas like Chutes-at-the-Beach in 1913 and Playland in 1928.

Following recent surface surveys and testing, Barker reports on artifacts coming to light including architectural features such as pressed tin from old ceilings, sculpture fragments, antique bottles, and museum-quality objects and architectural decor from the fair's Cairo Exhibit.

Barker also expects to uncover many of the oyster shells discarded by the concession stands since shells, unlike other food items, do not decay easily over time. According to [Project Manager] Anne Baskerville, plans are being made for the shells to become part of the landscape design, and artifacts recovered during these and previous excavations may be used in interpretive displays and exhibits at Lands End Lookout.

Stop by for a visit and learn about the historical archeology of Lands End, or join the work and participate in the study of a part of old San Francisco. Help preserve the artifactual history of this early amusement ground.

WHEN: May 16 to June 11, 2011, 8:00am–4:00pm, Monday through Saturday.

WHERE: The field site is located next to the Merrie Way Parking Lot on Point Lobos Avenue. The nearest MUNI bus route is 38 Geary-Point Lobos which terminates at 48th Avenue. The 5-Fulton, 31-Balboa, and 18-46th Avenue buses stop nearby. If you plan to assist and get dirty, dress accordingly with sturdy shoes. Few options for food are nearby, so bring lunch if you plan to stay longer than a short visit. RSVPs appreciated, but drop-ins are always welcome. To RSVP, leave a message at (415) 289-1891.


Wednesday, May 18, 5:30-7 pm: The official groundbreaking celebration for Lands End Lookout.

Thursday, May 19, 5:30-6:30 pm. See a slideshow of rare historic photos and learn more about the history of the area by attending Leo Barker's presentation "Merrie Way Stands—Digging a 19th Century Amusement Park." This lecture is sponsored by Park Academy and is free to park staff, volunteers and members. Others may attend with a suggested donation of $10.

Register at

The Lands End Project is part of the Trails Forever program—a parkwide initiative sponsored by the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy, National Park Service and the Presidio Trust. For more information on Trails Forever call (415) 561-3054 or write This phase of improvements is possible due to the generosity of the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Fund and the Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation. If you are interested in learning how to contribute to improvements at Lands End, contact Development Director Kathryn Morelli at or call (415) 561-3000.



Last updated: February 28, 2015

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