Students from Palomar College have begun a site survey to map one of the oldest cemeteries in San Diego North County, the historic San Luis Rey Pioneer Cemetery located close to the first settlement that led to modern-day Oceanside. The site survey is a joint project of Palomar College, the City of Oceanside, the Oceanside Historical Society and Oceanside Unified School District, which for many years has owned the cemetery land. The cemetery began as a Protestant burial site with Mission San Luis Rey as the historic site for Roman Catholic burials as well as burials of Indians associated with the Mission.
Forty-five students are enrolled in the Site Survey class, one of the archaeology classes offered through the American Indian Studies Department at the College. Professors Steve Crouthamel and Joel Paulson are teaching the course, which involves both beginning and advanced students. The class is a non-invasive program, meaning that the students do none of the "digging" normally associated with archaeology. The "digging" involves old newspapers and maps, obituary notices and photographs as well as modern Global Positioning Systems and ground-penetrating radar to identify and map gravesites. The class plans three field days at the cemetery, located off Ranch del Oro Drive between Mission Avenue and State Route 76.
Persons who have information to share about the cemetery, especially photographs or obituary notices, may call Professor Crouthnamel at Palomar College at 744-1150, extension 2428. More information about Pioneer Cemetery is available at the Oceanside Historical Museum, 305 North Nevada Street, open Thursday-Saturday from 10:00 to 2:00.