Dinosaur Depot

Article by Elaine Foster

Roadside Attractions – August 2006 – Colorado Central Magazine

HOW LONG HAS IT BEEN since you touched the leg of a dinosaur?

And when was the last time you walked the land where dinosaurs are known to have lived and died? Or held a fossil in your hand? Or examined one under a digital microscope?

If it’s been ‘ages’, then it’s time for you to visit Colorado’s ancient past and hold bits of its exotic plants and creatures right in your hand. You can touch a real Apatosuarus bone. There’s one right inside the door of the Dinosaur Depot in Cañon City, just for you to handle.

And if you want to know more, just ask.

How big was the mammoth that belonged to that enormous tooth in the lab window?

Ask the scientist working there.

If you want to know how someone gets a job removing ancient artifacts from the stone they’re embedded in, ask the woman who’s doing just that.

See those hunks of spinal column on the table behind the geologist working in the Dinosaur Depot’s lab? How do they put all of those loose bones back together again without inadvertently creating something totally preposterous?

“Have you ever built a cow?” asks Jon Stone, the geologist who oversees the Dinosaur Depot. “You can if you want to — in our Discovery Room.” There’s a cabinet filled with the bones of a cow and a picture of a cow’s skeleton to use as a guide. Why? “Because you can learn how paleontologists reconstruct fossils found in the field when you understand how modern animals are put together,” Jon says.

Where did Tony’s Tree come from?

Laura Foreman, the Depot’s tour guide, will tell you. “It came from Garden Park along with the Stegosaurus on display.” When you’re ready to leave the Depot, she’ll give you a map to Garden Park and point you in the right direction. “It’s just 8 miles east of here. Take a left onto Reynolds Ave and when you cross the cattle guard — you’re on Jurassic soil.”

People love Colorado for its beautiful wildlife and forests. But Colorado was a fascinating place long before it was settled. At the Dinosaur Depot you can get a glimpse into our region’s ancient past. You can understand it more fully, see its richness, and better envision its primeval fauna and astounding wildlife.

You can even touch the remnants of those prehistoric creatures and amazing plants at the Dinosaur Depot, 330 Royal Gorge Boulevard on Highway 50 in Cañon City.

And what will you say to your boss or school teacher when he asks, “So, what have you been doing lately?”

You can tell him, “Well, I touched the leg of a dinosaur, I talked with a geologist who was removing ancient artifacts from stone, and …. Oh yeah, I built a cow.”

The Dinosaur Depot is open 7 days a week.. Admission is $3 for adults, $1.50 for children. The tour guides and scientists can be reached at 719-269-7150. Start your tour right now by logging on to www.dinosaurdepot.com.

Elaine Foster is a grant-writer and ghostwriter. She can be reached at her email address: penknife101@yahoo.com or P.O. Box 1794, Canon City CO 81215