Sunday December 12, 1999

CALIFORNIA Used a century ago by stagecoaches, cattle and herds of sheep heading to pasture, the 106-year-old bridge holds a spot on the National Historic Register and is the oldest and longest of its type, an antique design known as the Pennsylvania Petit truss.

BAJA CALIFORNIA NORTE When it comes to marking history, you could say Baja California just hasn't had time. Now the Mexican government is opening a museum that will underline Baja California's distinct identity. The Museum of the Californias is at the Tijuana Cultural Center, Paseo de los Heroes and Avenida Fco. Javier Mina. Hours will be Tuesdays through Sundays, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Opening is tentatively set for Thursday. For information, call the center at (011) 52 66 87 9600.

MEXICO Diaz encouraged the digging at Teotihuacan because so many considered Mexico merely a former colonial outpost tamed by Spanish conquistadors. Mexico had teemed with settlements 600 years before the birth of Christ. Many cities in the world were built on top of their past, or simply wiped it out. Some have come to realize that this was wrong. People want to see the actual bricks and mortar of history.

VANDALS When archaeologist Ian Graham saw marks on the front of a limestone monument he had unearthed in Guatemala in 1971, he immediately notified the Guatemalan consulate. The piece has been recovered and will be returned soon to its Central American homeland. A Man was charged with looting a Lake Michigan wreck. The ship is protected under the Wisconsin Field Archaeology Act and is owned by the state. Wisconsin law clearly puts shipwrecks in protected status. Even as preservationists work with developers to protect archaeological sites, people with metal detectors loot them. Yes, it's getting worse. Metal detectors are a popular enough pastime that models start at $189. Indiana Jones is the original archaeologist/adventurer. Jones became a movie legend by battling Nazis, locating the Ark of the Covenant, and finding his way around deadly traps set in ancient tombs. Then, Jones vanished. A second heroic archaeologist has appeared - Tomb Raider Lara Croft. Croft is younger, sexier and more athletic than Jones.

CYBERIA In "The Little Bighorn Remembered: The Untold Indian Story of Custer's Last Stand," Native American accounts are examined in light of archaeological research. As director of the Smithsonian's National Anthropological Archives, Viola initiated a program to train Native Americans to professionally preserve their history.