Thursday, March 31, 2011


June 1, 1958. Utah Governor George Dewey Clyde (right) cuts a ribbon to officially open the new Quarry Visitor Center at Dinosaur National Monument. Also in attendance: Roger C. Ernest (center), Assistant Secretary of the Interior from Washington, D.C., and Oscar Dick (left), Chief Ranger for the Monument.

October 4, 2011 has been set for the grand re-opening of the two new Visitor Centers at Dinosaur National Monument. For the first time in five years the public will again be able to gaze upon the spectacular wall of Jurassic dinosaur bones and wander among exhibits that tell the story of the Carnegie Quarry and the Morrison ecosystem in the Monument.

Why an opening date in October, after the summer visitor season? Well it would be nice to open at the beginning of the visitor season but we couldn’t start construction until funding was available and that only became available in late winter 2009/2010. Construction started as soon as possible after that, but the project of extensive and complicated rehabilitation of two visitor centers just takes time --- close to 18 months in fact. Once the NPS takes possession of the buildings there is additional work that needs to be done, such as moving in and installing completely new exhibits, final cleaning of the quarry face and its bones, etc. Everyone, the government, contractors, subcontractors, etc., has worked as hard as possible to get this project done as soon as possible. It just couldn’t be done any faster.

Given that everything will be ready in October, the 4th was selected as the specific opening day because Dinosaur National Monument was established on October 4, 1915 by Woodrow Wilson (Presidential Proclamation Number 1313) to preserve “... an extraordinary deposit of Dinosaurian and other gigantic reptilian remains of the Juratrias period, which are of great scientific interest and value...”. The original reservation consisted of just 80 acres, including the Carnegie Quarry.

So October 4 is certainly an important day in the history of Dinosaur National Monument. But other significant events have occurred on this day, the more notable of which are

1209 Pope Innocent II crowns German king Otto of Wittelsbach.

1675 Christian Huygens patents the pocket watch.

1877 Pancho Villa, Mexican revolutionary is born.

1904 First day of New York City subway, with 350,000 people riding 9.1 miles of track.

1905 Henry Fairfield Osborn names and describes Tyrannosaurus rex in a scientific publication.

1911 The first public elevator goes into operation at London's Earl's Court Metro Station.

1949 United Nations' permanent New York City headquarters is dedicated.

1957 The Soviet Union launches Sputnik I, the first artificial satellite to orbit the Earth.

1957 Leave It to Beaver premieres on ABC-TV.

1970 Herbert Schmidtz makes highest parachute jump from a tower by leaping from a 1,984 ft tall TV mast in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

1994. The film Jurassic Park is released to home video.

1997 The auction of the T. rex specimen known as “Sue” is held. Opening bids start at $500,000 and less than ten minutes later, the Field Museum had purchased the remains with the highest bid of $8,362,500.

In ancient Rome October 4 was also the day of the Ieiunium Cereris, a day of fasting to honor Ceres a goddess of agriculture, grain crops, fertility and motherly relationships. It’s unfortunate that Woodrow Wilson wasn’t a little quicker with the signature pen and instead created Dinosaur National Monument on October 3, because that day, in ancient Rome, was the Festival of Bacchus, a celebration to thank the god for the year's harvest of grapes for wine making! Many of the world’s top sommeliers recommend a dry but rounded Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon mix (such as a Hardys Stamp of Australia Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2002-2003) as an excellent pairing with roasted Allosaurus because, you guessed it, it tastes like chicken!

"Thanks for the refill.  Would you be a dear and please get me another bucket of those Allosaurus nuggets? Oh, and by the way, what time is the ribbon cutting?"

A final thought. The fiscal year for the Federal Government starts on October 1. Let’s hope that Congress has funded the government by October 1 because without an authorized budget, the government will close be forced to close down. Wouldn’t it be ironic, to finally have the building completely repaired, the exhibits installed, the quarry cleaned, celebrations in place, all ready to welcome the public back, and we are forced to keep the building closed? It would bring a tear to an allosaur’s eye.


1958 dedication: Uintah County Library.
Woodrow Wilson Stamp: US Postal Service

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