Dinosaurs and horses

I couldn’t come up with anything especially patriotic to write about for my next Daily Sentinel history column, which is scheduled to run July 4, so I decided to write about horses.

In particular, the column will focus on the Carnegie horses — dozens and dozens of teams of horses and mules that hauled bones from the quarry at Dinosaur National Monument, south some 60 miles to Dragon, Utah. Once there, the fossils were loaded on the Uinta Railway, hauled over Baxter Pass into Mack, Colo., and reloaded onto Denver and Rio Grande Western trains for shipment to the Carnegie Museum at Pittsburgh, Pa.

Here’s a photo of several of those teams beginning the trek from Jensen, Utah to Dragon.

You Can’t Get There From Here

The main branch of Mesa County Public Libraries will be hosting me at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday (June 22) for a presentation called “You Can’t Get There From Here.” I’ll focus on the variety of obstacles that have made travel difficult in Western Colorado over the centuries, and the means by which humans surmounted those obstacles.

This photo shows some of the obstacles faced by motorists in the early 20th century, from a 1912 expedition from Mack to Salt Lake City.

car in Utah3

Bone horses

Gordon Hirschi and I spent a great afternoon Monday with Sonya Popelka of Dinosaur National Monument, learning about the Carnegie Horses. Over 15 years, beginning in 1909, they carried 350 tons of dinosaur bones, wrapped in plaster, from what is now the national monument to railroad sidings 60 miles away so they could be shipped to the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh, Pa.

Carnegie horses5
Skidding dinosaur bones from Carnegie Quarry at Dinosaur National Monument. Photo courtesy of National Park Service.

The bones were recovered by Earl Douglass, the man who discovered the great paleontological find near Jensen, Utah, and helped establish Dinosaur National Monument.

Colorado Plateau Horseman’s Hall of Fame will be honoring the Carnegie Horses at our second annual induction ceremony, July 14, during the Mesa County Fair. And I will be writing a history column about the horses, probably for July 4.