Marysville Data Recovery, Chinese Laundry Locations, Marysville, Montana

Western Cultural conducted a data recovery project for the Montana Department of Transportation in Marysville, Montana. The project focused on two Chinese laundries that were in operation from the 1880's until the 1910 fire, an event which signaled the end of Marysville. The excavation units recovered approximately 20,000 individual artifacts, including artifacts related to the prehistoric occupation of the area, artifacts related to the Chinese laundries, and recent debris. The historical archaeological record indicated that the two laundries followed different business models, with the east business providing service primarily to Chinese businesses and the Marysville Chinese population while the west business provided laundry service to the entire Marysville community. The artifact assemblage revealed that the diet of occupants of both laundries consisted of traditional Chinese foods as well as the traditional foods encountered in mining camps. The artifact record also revealed that the two laundries were primarily places of business and did not serve as homes and provided ample evidence for the presence of women and children. Historical research identified Mr. Chow Lee as a proprietor of one of the laundries but failed to identify which business he owned. Excavations revealed the front of the foundations of both laundries along with board sidewalks. The historical record located the structures on a north-south axis; the foundations are oriented northwest-southeast, a discrepancy which cannot be readily explained. The data recovery project depicts a compelling story of the Chinese Marysville experience while raising additional questions and pointing towards the need for further investigations.


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