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Lubbock Lake Landmark celebrates 50 years of discovering centuries of life

The Lubbock Lake Landmark is located at 2401 Landmark Dr.
Sarah Self-Walbrick
Texas Tech Public Media
The Lubbock Lake Landmark is located at 2401 Landmark Dr.

Lions and camels and mammoths - oh my!

Those are just some of the critters who have roamed the South Plains. Animals and people have traversed the region’s harsh conditions for thousands of years, searching for water. They left their marks - bones, tools, shelters and other signs of life have been found at the Lubbock Lake Landmark and its sister sites in the area.

For 50 years, the archaeological site has conducted continuous research and public programming championed by its longtime director, Eileen Johnson. The Lubbock Lake Landmark is commemorating its work this week with demonstrations and a new exhibit at its 2401 Landmark Dr. location.

The historic importance of Lubbock Lake was first discovered in 1936, according to a news release from the organization. The City of Lubbock hoped to bring back the ancient underwater spring there as a water source, a possible solution for a perennial problem on the South Plains. It didn’t work. But it did reveal bison bones and Folsom points, which were used as sharp spear tips over 10,000 years ago.

Excavation work at the landmark was infrequent until Johnson arrived in 1973. The research focused on the Quaternary Period, a geologic era dating back 2.58 million years, has continued since.

The Landmark is a 300-plus acre nature preserve. The land has been restored over the past two decades to its natural mixed-grass prairie state of the late 1800s, a news release states.

Decades into studying the land and its history, Johnson said there is still so much to explore.

“We’ve looked at maybe 5%, less than 5%,” Johnson said. “It’s here. It’s preserved. It's here for generations of researchers and public programming and academic education. That's the legacy of the landmark.”

The Landmark is a satellite heritage facility of the Museum of Texas Tech University and is designated a National Historic Landmark, a State Archeological Landmark, and is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Visit The Lubbock Lake Landmark’s website for more information about Celebration Week.

Sarah Self-Walbrick is the news director at Texas Tech Public Media, where she leads the news team and focuses on underreported stories in Lubbock. Sarah is a Lubbock native and a three-time graduate of Texas Tech University. She started her career at the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal.