In 1984, I dragged my family on a cross country tour. In six weeks, we covered almost ten thousand miles, visited twenty-nine states, and saw two oceans.
I was forty years old at the time and thought I’d seen just about everything one could imagine. But when we arrived in Vernal, Utah, my mind went into another sphere.
To begin with, I saw Reddy Kilowatt.
I hadn’t seen the logo of the electric companies in years, and yet there he was – standing proudly in front of the local power company.
Things got even more interesting when we decided to visit the Vernal Dinosaur Museum. Walking around and looking at the displays gave me the strangest feelings – I’d been there before! And yet, it was my first visit to that part of our country.
Finally, I looked down and noticed a small brass plate attached to each display counter. It read, “Donated by the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.”
These were many of the same display cases I looked at when I was a grade school student on my annual field-trip to the museum. The only things that were missing were the basement cafeteria and milk in the one-pint glass bottles.
I asked one of the employees to explain why the museum in Pittsburgh had donated so much to a museum in such a small town as Vernal, Utah.
The answer was quite simple. Andrew Carnegie had hired a team of archeologists to go out and find dinosaur bones. That team found them in the area of Dinosaur National Monument… just outside Vernal, and sent them all back to Pittsburgh.
Carnegie then selected the best specimens to be placed in the museum in Pittsburgh. He sold the rest to museums throughout the world.
Eventually, the people from Utah had had enough and insisted some of the bones should stay where they were found. To repay the state of Utah, the museum in Pittsburgh sent the display cases, along with many artifacts from around the world, to Vernal to provide them with a ‘world-class’ museum of their own.
If you’ve ever visited Dinosaur National Monument, you know that today, every effort is made to leave the bones where they are found.
I want to thank the author of a dinosaur website who calls himself Dinoguy for reminding me of my visit to Vernal. If you’ve ever been interested in being part of a ‘dig’, this is the guy you need to talk to.