Starting October 1, 2018, the public is officially able to experience California’s first maritime heritage underwater trail devoted to showcasing Lake Tahoe’s historic recreational watercraft and barges, that now rest below the surface of Emerald Bay.
Scuba and snorkel diving visitors will be able to explore an underwater “trail” of historic features at several sites along the shoreline of Emerald Bay State Park, Lake Tahoe. Currently, divers have access to the Historic Barge Dive Site established by California State Parks in 1998. The department has never publicly released the location and information about three additional sites highlighted in this underwater trail until now.
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Underwater archaeology deals with the problems of studying and managing inundated cultural resources. As such, this branch of archaeology requires special methods to discover, record and preserve these underwater resources, and most of its practitioners are SCUBA divers. Underwater archaeology frequently deals with, but is not limited to, historic period shipwrecks. Other underwater archaeological resources include artifacts discarded in rivers and bays, as well as sunken or flooded occupation sites.
Underwater archaeology has great potential to contribute to our understanding of the prehistoric as well as the historic occupation of California. Sea levels have risen over 300 feet since the end of the last Pleistocene ice age, inundating prehistoric coastal archaeological sites that can only be studied using underwater archaeological methods.
There is a little-known part of California State Parks that is completely under water. It's the underwater parks program. The underwater parks program was established in 1968 to preserve the best representative examples of California's natural underwater resources found in coastal and inland waters. The program also aims to provide a variety of underwater recreational opportunities, especially in areas near metropolitan centers.