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.

The Relative merits of smoking and drinking

Nearly everyone knows that Albert Einstein, who died on April 18, 1955, was famous for his theory of relativity and for his work on quantum mechanics. But austere photos of the genius, such as the one accompanying this blog, don’t do him justice. He was not some uptight science geek who thought only of physics.

The young Einstein enjoyed partying and drinking quite a bit. He belonged to a Swiss drinking – and-debating club called the Olympia Academy, which he said had a great effect on his career. He also wrote at one time that he and his then wife, Milevea Maric, both ended up “alEinsteinas, dead drunk, under the table” at the club.

Einstein also long resisted his doctor’s advice that he give up smoking his pipe. Smoking the pipe, Einstein said, helped him quiet his mind and think better. Even when he finally quit smoking, he continued to use the pipe, propping it in his mouth and chewing on the stem.

I’m not advocating smoking and drinking here. I’m only noting that one of the world’s smartest men indulged in those activities.

My favorite con man

The stories about con artists are familiar enough that we’ve immortalized them in jokes and songs:

Want to buy the Brooklyn Bridge?

I have some ocean-front property for sale in Arizona.

But this g

Count Victor Lustig

uy may have been the best ever. Count Victor Lustig actually sold the Eiffel Towner in Paris. Twice.


He also was involved in many other confidence schemes prior to being arrested and ending up in Alcatraz.  There’s more at the link below.

Enjoy. And by the way, I’m considering selling the Mount Sneffels if anyone is interested.

Smithsonian.com article on con man

Desert bighorns and wild horses

This ride actually was research for a history article I’m writing about early days in what’s now the BLM’s Little Book Cliffs Wild Horse Range. It’s just the sort of sacrifice I’m willing to make for my writing.

It was a beautiful spring day, and Lila, Moose and I had a great ride of several hours up Main Canyon and Spring Canyon. We sheephorsessaw several bands of wild horses and this group of desert bighorn sheep. Moose is always interested in the wild horses, but he was positively fascinated by the sheep. He wanted to go charging up the hillside to get closer.

Museum Award

Monday night was a great night, for me and for a number of other people who were recognized by the Museum of Western Colorado for our work related to the museum and its mission. I received the 2016 Historian Award. It was both gratifying and humbling, and I deeply appreciate the museum even considering me for this. In this photo, I’m standing with John Lindstrom of Palisade, who was the recipient of the 2016 Archaeologist Award.

The Awards themselves are aspen-wood vases, made by a volunteer at the museum, so they’re pretty special, as well.

As I said when I received the awarJohn Bob awardsd, I couldn’t write my columns, or produce the books I have written, without the assistance of the folks at the Museum of Western Colorado, especially the staff and volunteers with the Lloyd Files Research Library. Members of the Mesa County Historical Society and the Palisade Historical Society have also helped me a great deal. And The Daily Sentinel has been great in allowing me a free hand to write about whatever historical event strikes my fancy.

Special thanks to all of the wonderful readers who frequently tell me how much they enjoy my history columns.

Pat Garrett killed, Feb. 29, 1908

Pat GarrettMost people know that Pat Garrett,  the sheriff of Lincoln County, New Mexico and one-time friend of William Bonney, aka, Billy the Kid, shot and killed the kid at Fort Sumner. That occurred on July 14, 1881.

But far fewer people, myself included until recently, realize that Garrett himself was shot and killed 27 years later, on a lonely road outside Las Cruces, N. M. A man named Wayne Brazel, who leased part of Garrett’s ranch and who had a ongoing dispute with Garrett, confessed to the killing, claiming self-defense. He was tried for murder but not convicted.

Garret was essentially broke by then, and was trying desperately to sell his ranch.

There are some historical customs that say Leap Day — the extra day added to the calendar at the end of February every four years — is a lucky day. But that didn’t prove to be the case for Pat garrett.


The Last Indian Uprising

It still amazes me that this event occurred so close to us in southeastern Utah, a barely over a century ago.

A dispute over a campfire card game, the murder of one of the participants and the search for the accused murderer near Bluff, Utah, sparked one of the last armed Indian conflicts in the United States 101 years ago this month.

It would lead eventually to what became known as Posey’s war, in 1923. But first, it involved posses from Colorado and Utah, a hard-headed lawman from Utah and an aging Army general who was trusted by the Utes and Piutes.

Read more here:Bluff Indian war 2-16-15

Indians captured during the 1915 fight. That’s  Tse-ne-gat on the left.


Gen. Scott
General Hugh Scott, who arranged the peaceful surrender of the Indians.

Last of the Mohicans & Cooper’s Fashion Tips

Today is the 190th anniversary of the publication of one of America’s first great adventure novels — “The Last of the Mohicans,” by James Fennimore Cooper. When I was a young man, Cooper also gave me an excuse to dress in “a careless, slovenly manner.”

The book has produced a number of film versions in both English and German. The most recent, and probably the most famous is the 1992 version starring Daniel MohicansposterDay-Lewis as Hawkeye, aka Natty Bumpo, as shown here in a poster for the movie.

I’m equally fond of another Cooper book featuring Bumpo: “The Deerslayer.” It was published 15 years after “The Last of the Mohicans,” but was actually a prequel. The events described in “The Deerslayer” occurred almost 20 years earlier.

I also freely admit that my approach to men’s fashion comes straight from one of Cooper’s characters in “The Deerslayer”: Hurry Harry. According to the book, Harry’s height “exceeded six-feet four” and he was “unusually well-proportioned.” Since I am 6-feet-4, and when I was young and athletic I could claim to be at least relatively well-proportioned, he seemed like a good role model.

Although his buddy, Natty Bumpo, was a bit of a frontier dandy in “The Deerslayer,” Harry was the opposite. “Hurry Harry, either from constitutional recklessness or from a secret consciousness how little his appearance required artificial aids, wore everything in a careless, slovenly manner,” Cooper wrote, “as if he felt a noble scorn for the trifling accessories of dress and ornaments.”

“A noble scorn” for dressing well. Hurry Harry has always been my role model when it comes to fashion. That’s my excuse for the way I dress and I’m sticking to it.