Tuesday, April 7, 2009

...more fossils just waiting to be discovered

This is the fourth article in a monthly series featured in the Vernal Express celebrating 100 Years of Discovery at Dinosaur National Monument, written by Dinosaur National Monument Park Guide Matthew Greuel. You can read his other articles on the Vernal Express website [my previous blog link1, 23]. 

This is probably one of my favorite sections Matt has written thus far. It talks about the building of the Quarry Visitor Center, about the first park paleontologist (Dr. Theodore White) and about the numerous people who worked very hard in the beginning to expose the fossil you use to be able to see in the quarry wall.

There’s more, waiting to be discovered
by Matthew Greuel (March.09)

"Such was the view of some influential people toward the Carnegie Quarry at Dinosaur National Monument in 1925. The Carnegie Museum of Natural History, the University of Utah, and the United States National Museum had come and gone. Why should any further development occur?

Certain other people, however, felt differently.

Paleontologist Earl Douglass felt very strongly that there were more fossils just waiting to be discovered. University of Utah geology professor Dr. Frederick Pack agreed, to the point that he sent a letter to the National Park Service (NPS) requesting no further excavation permits be granted “…until a decision has been reached as to what can be done during the next two or three years in excising a dinosaur deposit in permanent relief under proper protection...” The movement to enclose the Carnegie Quarry fossil wall in a building for public benefit started some years earlier when the public and paleontologists alike began to understand the magnitude of the dinosaur graveyard at the quarry site. Douglass himself broached the idea with Carnegie Museum officials prior to the creation of Dinosaur National Monument. Civic organizations in Vernal, the Uintah Basin, and Salt Lake City kept pressure on elected officials, including Utah Congressman Don Colton. Congressman Colton introduced separate bills to build on the quarry, but they never left committee. Some museums, including the Smithsonian, inquired about building and operating a site at the quarry.

The refrain from all these groups, however, was the same: The desire and demand was there, but the financial and other resources were not.

A steady stream of tourists visited the monument through the 1930s, hosted by Acting Custodian Dr. A.C. Boyle and his various New Deal-era crews. The onset of World War II, however, pulled resources and attention away from the monument.

The post-WWII era saw most federal government budgets increased back to pre-WWII levels, or even higher…except the National Park Service. Americans, with newfound freedom, mobility, and a desire for The Wild West, sought out National Parks in record numbers. It quickly became apparent that the minimal services offered by most parks were woefully inadequate, and Dinosaur National Monument was no exception. National Park Service Director Conrad Wirth thus proposed Mission 66: an ambitious project to build and upgrade visitor centers, roads, employee housing, and other necessities by 1966, the 50th anniversary of the NPS. The time and energy already spent discussing and estimating the visitor center at the Carnegie Quarry meant that building would be one of the first, and one of the most prominent, Mission 66 projects...."

Keep reading the article here.

Original article © Vernal Express.

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