High-Speed Rail Researchers Dig For History, Or Are They?

    High-speed rail researchers are digging for history in and around Chinatown in downtown Fresno.

    Archaeologists, hired by the California High-Speed Rail Authority are searching for any historical artifacts of Fresno's past.

    So far the only relics unearthed, some broken pottery, glass, nails, and a ring from a horse bridle.

    However, Kathy Omachi, with Fresno's Chinatown Revitalization says the High-Speed Rail Authority does not really want to find anything.

    All it wants is a nice clean report with nothing in it to stop or slow down the project.

    Omachi says, "You can't have a nice document and destroy what is actually there and destroy people's heritage. Otherwise, it's the same old song and same old dance step."

    Omachi says her organization was never asked for input. In particular about the underground tunnels in Chinatown. Tunnels that could be destroyed by the rail system.

    Archeologist Dana McGowan says, "We are not finding as much as we were hoping for, but it does tell a little bit of a story and so that's what we are excited about. But we can get a few more pieces and get a better picture of what was going on in the 1800's."

    Omachi says she is not surprised, because the crew refuses to dig deeper.

    Omachi says, "When you go down to the tunnels, under the business they are more than 6 feet deep. The steps go anywhere from 8 to 10 feet and then you start hitting the connectors."

    Omachi says it even states in the finalized, High-Speed Rail Archeological Treatment plan, "Some historians consider the tunnels to be xenophobic fabrications." It also states, "The legend was probably fostered by a Chinese merchant, Al Ming, who formulated the myth to attract tourists."

    Meanwhile, archaeologists plan to continue their excavation. As many as nine trenches will be made in and around Chinatown over the next few weeks.

    Omachi says her organization may sue the state.

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