The Apex, Arizona Archaeology Project is a collaborative project between Northern Arizona University and the Kaibab National Forest to explore the 1928-1936 Apex logging camp. Located outside of present-day Tusayan, Apex was founded to serve as the headquarters for the Saginaw and Manistee Lumber Company, as they logged the ponderosa pine forests south of the Grand Canyon to provide ties for the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railroad, timbers for nearby mines, building materials for Grand Canyon village, and shipping crates for California’s fruit industry. 

Under the direction of Dr. Emily Dale, two years of archaeological field school students have excavated and recorded a broad collection of historic artifacts and features that tell the stories of the men, women, and children who lived and worked in this Great-Depression-era camp. Part of our work is providing public tours of the site, and we’re happy to extend the invitation to the Flagstaff Festival of Science community!

Guided by Emily and NAU Anthropology M.A. student Timothy Maddock, visitors to the 20th-century logging camp and company town will experience a wide variety of artifacts and unique structures that are typical of the time period and are emblematic of industry in Arizona at this time. Highlights include the railroad-tie foundations of one of two unsegregated schoolhouses in Arizona during the period, the still-intact railroad line and maintenance pit that served the locomotives, and the remains of the living quarters for administrators and laborers.

A Princess Pat make-up tin lid reveals the presence of women at this labor camp.

Visitors will also see artifacts that provide clues into understanding life at camp. Foodstuffs came from all over the world, including soda bottles from Flagstaff, sardines from Norway, and beef from Uruguay, and were served on dishware from California and Japan. Toy trains, cars, and planes and children’s tea sets reveal the presence of the many boys and girls at the camp. Medicines and hygiene artifacts, including laxatives, toothpaste and mouthwash, and combs, demonstrate the ways the residents tried to stay healthy. Radio and record fragments and evidence of alcohol consumption both during and post-Prohibition show the myriad ways people entertained themselves at home. 

Join NAU’s Apex, Arizona Archaeology Project for a guided tour of a Depression-era logging camp along the Grand Canyon Railway and learn about historical archaeology in Arizona. Guests are reminded to wear sturdy shoes and bring water. The tour will be outside of Tusayan, Arizona, but the group will arrange a meeting place in Flagstaff. Tour takes place on Oct. 1, 8:00 a.m. Reservations will open online in September. 

Learn more about the project by visiting – or check out The NAU Review’s video of the first year of field work –