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The Pittsburgh/Carnegie Connection --- Dinosaur National Monument

We stayed in Vernal, Utah at the Fossil Valley RV Park for three nights for the sole purpose of visiting the Dinosaur National Monument. The Monument has the Quarry Exhibit Center with a wall of over 1500 bones embedded in the rock and interesting information about the origins of the Quarry. It was amazing to see the major impact that Carnegie and his legacy had on dinosaur fossil discoveries. I was especially interested in this since my mom loved the Carnegie Museum and especially the dinosaurs. She had a lifetime membership to the museum and over the years my brothers and I and then the grandchildren were frequent visitors. At one point mom sponsored some bones to help fund the new Dino exhibit.

A brief summary of what we learned at the Monument:

Paleontologist Earl Douglass from the Carnegie Museum in Pittsburgh discovered eight vertebra of an Apatosaurus (a sauropod) on August 17, 1909, the first dinosaur bones discovered and excavated at what would become the Carnegie Quarry in northeastern Utah.

Shortly after Douglass’ find in 1909 excavations began, and, eventually, the team unearthed most of the rest of the skeleton. The nearly complete skeleton was named Apatosaurus louisae after the wife of Andrew Carnegie, the chief patron of the museum and the dig.

This was the beginning of the “Carnegie Quarry.” Further digging revealed three additional, nearly complete Apatosaurus skeletons beneath Douglass' first find. Between 1909 and 1924, the quarry produced almost 320,000 kilograms of dinosaur bones, most of which were shipped back to Pittsburgh, where Douglass' first Apatosaurus is still on display, along with other skeletons discovered at the Quarry. After the original excavations the remainder of the bones were left intact, embedded in the rock, so that visitors could view the fossils as they were discovered. The area around the quarry was declared a national monument on October 4, 1915.

The Wall of Bones

Information on Earl Douglass and where the skeletons are now located.

Over 90% of the park is managed as wilderness and a large portion is in Colorado. We started driving to see the sights but had to turn back. It was a rainy day and we got stuck in the red mud!

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