Thursday, October 6, 2011


Tuesday Oct 4th was the 96th anniversary of the creation of Dinosaur National Monument by President Woodrow Wilson. Such an auspicious day was a natural choice for the formal reopening of the Quarry Exhibit Hall and the wall of bones. The past month has been nothing but blue skies, comfortable temperatures, and beautiful weather. So it was only natural that Tuesday would arrive with overcast skies, wind, and threatening rain. Fortunately the blustery wind and rain held off until hours after our opening ceremonies and the Sun even came out during the festivities.

Several hundred people were in attendance --- even a hatchling dinosaur made an appearance.

Dinosaur Superintendent Mary Risser recounted the major problems (known and unexpected) that plagued the old building and the creative solutions brought to them.

Northern Ute Tribal Elder Clifford Duncan gave a traditional Ute blessing.

There were several guest speakers. Diane Iverson, the granddaughter of Earl Douglass, spoke about the great importance that the quarry, the QEH, and the Monument holds for their family. Her sister Mary Madison and their families were also in attendance.

Laura Joss, Deputy Regional Director of the NPS Intermountain Region, spoke about what the reopening of the QEH means to the region and the Service.

Yours truly talked about the scientific significance and value of the quarry and its contributions to paleontological science. Wisely I was restricted to five minutes, a tough order given that it usually takes more time than that for me to answer the question “What bone is that?”
Hair carefully out of sight in a ponytail, I suffer a tie to speak about the Carnegie Quarry.

Pam Juliano, from Utah Congressman Jim Matheson’s staff, presented the Monument with a flag from the US Capitol.

Utah Governor Gary Herbert was the keynote speaker and addressed the economic importance of the Monument and the value of tourism to the local economy.

The Uintah High School Jazz and Marching Bands, and the Uintah High School Choir performed and the Jensen Veterans of Foreign Wars and Honor Guard Presented the colors.

Finally, Governor Herbert and the Vernal Area Chamber of Commerce cut the ribbon and the QEH was formally opened and the crowds poured in.

Behind the scenes the entire park staff was  busy with a vast range of activities from seating visitors, to directing traffic, providing security, preparing for medical emergencies, getting visitors on and off shuttle buses, and the myriad of logistical work that most of us don't see but are essential for a successful event. Planning and preparations for the Grand Opening had been going  on for months.

My friend and colleague Dr. Brooks Britt, paleontologist at Brigham Young University, gave up a faculty meeting to come out and help me with meeting and greeting Tuesday’s visitors and talk to them in depth about the exhibits and the Carnegie quarry story.
Yes, this is the same Dr. Britt who was the drummer for the Provo Accordion Cannibals (see my June 30 2011 post). Since he took off his nose and ear rings we allowed him to try on an NPS flat hat.

For a view of the opening from a visitor's perspective (albeit one who is a paleo blogger), see Brian Switek's fantastic Dinosaur Tracking at the Smithsonian on-line:

Does the opening of the QEH and QVC mean adieu for this blog? Well not quite yet at least. There are some interesting things still to be told about the new exhibits, quarry history, etc. So if you, constant readers, will continue this trip with me, we’ll follow up on those topics in future posts.

Photos: Lorraine Chure


  1. Dan,
    I am forever indebted to you for keeping us updated on all of the goings on in Dinomon. I had every intention of attending the grand re-openings, but age and weariness following a 3,000 mile jaunt to Illinois and Wisconsin made me feel that rest for an aging body was more important right at this time. I'm not making any promises, but I should be out your way in a month or two.
    Simply great photos, amazing , and a wealth of knowledge were presented in your blogs.
    Thank you, thank you, thank you,
    Charlie Patera

  2. This makes me a bit homesick for my little Utah paradise. Although I laughed out loud at the pic of you in hat and tie. Goodness.