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There are three very important dinosaur quarries located in our Garden Park Fossil Area that have not had as much attention as they deserved until recently.  These dinosaur quarries include the Kessler Quarry, the DeWeese Quarry, and the Delfs Quarry. Did you know that Dall DeWeese discovered a dinosaur?  Did you know a local high school teacher and his students discovered our Colorado State Fossil? Did you know that local ranchers helped excavate a dinosaur now on display in the Cleveland Museum of Natural History?

Prof. Kessler and his students

Prof. Kessler and his students

Over the last few years a series of interns have been provided to the Bureau of Land Management – Royal Gorge Field Office to support their paleontology program. These interns come from the GeoCorps America program working under the Geological Society of America (GSA).  The GSA in turn works in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management, and the National Park Service. The program offers paid short-term geoscience positions including geology, paleontology, and other natural science areas.  We call these workers “GSA interns”, short for Geological Society of America.

A few years ago the Marsh Felch Quarry site was developed in large part by GSA intern Ryan McKenna, who initiated the Marsh Felch Quarry website.  A number of very good GSA volunteers have gone on to strengthen that information and over the last two years there has been some remarkable progress thanks to the efforts of Allison Vitkus and Karen Lloyd. We talked about the great work that Allison was able to complete on the Cope-Lucas dinosaur quarries and in the near future I’ll tell you about the remarkable work that Ryan McKenna has done.  Today I’m telling you about the work completed by Karen Lloyd.

Karen J. Lloyd earned her Masters of Science degree in Museum Studies with a focus on Geology/Vertebrate Paleontology and is currently studying for her PhD in Environmental History at the University of Colorado in Boulder.  Her research area focuses on amateur field collectors during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century and includes the early fossil collectors and natural history of the West.  Lloyd is also a museum associate at the University of Colorado Natural History Museum where she works in the vertebrate paleontology section as a curatorial and field assistant. Lloyd has published several papers on vertebrate paleontology and remains an active researcher in this field – focusing on the inter-montane basins of Colorado during the latest Eocene.

While at the Bureau of Land Management, as a GeoCorps sponsored intern, Lloyd has been working with the Geologist / Paleontologist for the Field Office in Cañon City, Melissa Smeins.  Lloyd’s focus has been on researching and writing a history of the local fossil collectors who worked in the Garden Park Fossil Area during the twentieth century. Additionally, Lloyd and Smeins have worked on locating historical quarries in preparation for an inventory and monitoring program of the fossil resources of the area.  This year, Karen has researched Dall DeWeese, Frederick Kessler, and Edwin Delfs and you can now see that work online!

William Dallas DeWeese, more commonly known as Dall DeWeese, moved to Cañon City in the 1880s. DeWeese can best be described as a “man of his time,” who aggressively promoted the benefits of living in Cañon City and played a large role in the development of its infrastructure. Today, DeWeese’s irrigation ditch and reservoir still provide water for recreational opportunities in the area, and the municipal building, now the Royal Gorge Regional History Museum and Center, bares witness to his legacy.

DeWeese was also a hunter-naturalist who was concerned with the conservation of wildlife at the state and national level and was instrumental in the passing of the Alaskan Game Act in 1902. It was while hunting in the Morrison Formation badlands in Garden Park that DeWeese made his most exciting find: a partial skeleton of Diplodocus longus.


Dall DeWeese and coworkers excavating a Diplodocus

Dall DeWeese and coworkers excavating a Diplodocus

Explore the website to learn more Dall DeWeese and his dinosaur discovery.

If you want to see the dinosaur that was discovered at the Delfs or Cleveland-Delfs quarry, you guessed it….you need to head to Cleveland Ohio. The quarry was discovered by Edwin Delfs for the Cleveland Museum of Natural History in the early 1950’s where he and his field crew uncovered more than just dinosaurs; thus showing us the biological diversity of the Late Jurassic period. Check out this remarkable story.

Edwin Delfs and Cleveland crew

Frederick Carl Kessler (1883-1963) was a history teacher at Cañon City High School and devoted his life to education; first as a high school teacher, and after his retirement, as the curator of the municipal museum.  His love for natural history was revealed in a booklet “The Royal Gorge, History and Geology” which was published in 1941. The booklet included natural and cultural history and was illustrated with photographs and pen and ink drawings, but his focus and interest lay in geology and minerals.

Kessler, a shy and intelligent man, enjoyed nothing more than taking groups of students into the Garden Park Fossil Area to learn about the geology of the area. It was on one of these after school excursions that Kessler and his students found the most important fossil for Colorado: its State Fossil. Explore the websiteto learn more about Kessler and the State Fossil.

Frederick Carl Kessler

Keep checking back for updates regarding our dinosaur legacy.  In a near future article I get the pleasure of introducing five wonderful pod casts!