27 Feb 19
Chico State University’s Department of Anthropology staff and students teamed with Gold Nugget Museum members on Saturday in full tie-back suits, gloves, shoe booties and face masks to dig through ash and debris to find the museum’s artifacts on Gold Nugget Museum grounds.
Carly Whelan, CSU,Chico Archaeology professor in the Anthropology Department joined by staff and students in the department helped Gold Nugget Museum members dig for artifacts
Carly Whelan, a Chico State Anthropology professor, joined Anthropology Department chair and Professor of Museum Studies Georgia Fox, Rachel Hensler, a Chico State archaeology lab technician and eight student archaeologists and three students and staff member with visual Anthropology to help Museum members.
“I’m glad that we are able to be able to help our neighbors in this way and to apply our skills to try to help them recover everything. It was so devastating to hear that the museum was completely destroyed,” Whelan said. “We want to help as much as we can and try to recover as many objects as possible.”
Whelan helped excavate cremains prior to helping the Gold Nugget Museum search for artifacts on Saturday. She said it was emotional to find the cremated ashes to give to loved ones.
“It’s been meaningful to give back to our community, the archaeology that we do is prehistoric or historic and the skills are not usually applied to contemporary findings when we learned about these opportunities we wanted to be able to help out and do whatever we can,” Whelan said.
Chico State University Anthropology and Archaeology staff and students helped Gold Nugget Museum members transfer artifacts into boxes for labeling.
The plan was to excavate the structure from one end to the other end. They were trying to recover objects that survived the Camp Fire and the artifacts that were found were put into trays and given to the museum personnel.
The Gold Nugget Museum members helped sort through the antiques to discern what is salvageable by tagging them with labels and was stored away for safekeeping.
Roni Turner, Gold Nugget Museum volunteer sat at a table labeling the items found at the entrance of the museum grounds.
Some of the museum antiques were found and labeled to save for display of the museum when it is rebuilt
On the table some of the items that were recovered was a cast-iron pot, a tea cup, a film reel can, a metal vase, a train set pre-World War I, and a Tonka truck.
“To me (finding the artifacts) means a future, it means that we can rebuild,” Turner said. “It’s not all lost.”
Randy Coy found 10 various vintage toys that were on loan at the museum. Coy is holding Marx military trains in the picture.
Randy Coy and his friend Chuck Visconte, collectors for 35 years, had a display on loan to the Gold Nugget Museum and some of the pieces were discovered by Coy in digging them up.
Visconte’s collection consisted of Nonpareil Toy Co. trains and trucks, a Bing airplane toy and a standard gauge Lionel train set. Coy had Marx military trains, a Marx toy fire truck, a Tonka fire truck and a Nylint truck train.
“The full top area had a Lionel train set, it has some cranes, it had fire engines, at the entry we had two fiberglass toyland soldiers that belonged to the museum as well,” Coy said.”We had a mining exhibit with mining toys, we had a character toy set from the ’40s and ’50s but mostly all Marx toys.”
He had more to put into his truck the morning of the Camp Fire. Coy said he evacuated all of the Disney character toys out of the museum.
“I did not display them, the climate looked interesting, I was hesitating to do it, I started evacuating toys about 40 minutes before the order to evacuate came in,” Coy said.
He said it is difficult for the museum to start over because there were mining items and Native American items that are not replaceable.
“The things we were loaning here and what the museum offered here it’s a part of history that is gone,” he said. “The history that those items represent is going away and the items that went away are irreplaceable.”
He took a Nonpereil Toy Co. tank truck that he will return to his friend and one Marx military train car with him. The rest of the toys are left with the museum.
Mark Thorp, membership & events coordinator for Paradise Ridge Chamber of Commerce said they were salvaged about 20 percent of the collections and exhibits items.
The items found are going to be stored temporarily until out of storage GNM members Anthropology students can be preserve them.
Museum staff helped Chico State staff and students know what look for when they moved through each section of the building.
Michelle Rader, Gold Nugget Museum office manager said the museum lost their items’ catalogue in the fire. She said what was gathered on Saturday will be compare to what they have already listed.
Some of the artifacts found are going to be on display in the Depot Museum on Black Olive Drive.
A Camp Fire exhibit will be featured in the new Gold Nugget Museum with objects that survived the fire according to Rader. The plan is to have past, present and future exhibits in the rebuilt Gold Nugget Museum she said.
“The old photographs and the old documents (that were lost in the fire) are irreplaceable, irons and dolls and some were very special,” she said. “The photographs of people that founded this town is irreplaceable.”
She added the museum will accept donations from people in the community but they don’t have much storage to collect them.
“It would be nice to start building up a collection again that are historically important to Paradise,” she said.
The Gold Nugget Museum was a whole experience between the museum and the grounds and the different programs that Gold Nugget Museum had Rader said.
A modified version of Gold Nugget Days will be at Paradise Community Park on April 27.
The Depot will be opening on March 1, administration and management will be working out of the Depot and they will be rebuilding the museum on the property according to Paradise Ridge Chamber of Commerce membership & events coordinator Mark Thorp.