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RE: Fossil Attractions in Virginia


I can only reply (somewhat) to the latter of your query regarding the dino
park. many moons ago, in fact from birth to about age 16 my family and I
traveled every summer to West Virginia to visit my grandparents. Back then
the New River Gorge Bridge was only a drawing so we had to drive the LONG
way (~12 hrs) to Minden W. Va, and in so doing passed a neat place called
Dinosaur Land, IIRC in _Front Royal,_Va.  I managed to get my father to stop
there maybe 2-3 times out of all those trips I cannot give many details
except to say that yes there were "life" size paper machet-looking replicas
of dinosaurs (Charles Knight comes to mind) and a gift shop. That shop, at
that time used to sell the Aurora Prehistoric Scenes model sets which by my
teens, I had nearly half the product line! Well I'm 40 now and have not been
out that way since then so I DON'T know for sure (although I have heard it
still is) if it is there. I have been trying for the last couple of years to
get the wife interested in driving out there but to no avail.
BTW, interestingly this little anecdote played an important part of my
evolution as a paleontologist! My grandparents live in a depressed coal
mining area of south central WVa, near Beckley. In fact, my grandfather was
a coal miner. It is on the "slatedump" behind grandma's house where I spent
my entire vacation splitting shale slabs and picking through  "red dog"
shale collecting abundant Pennsylvanian Age plant fossils. I was around 8
years old when I found my first book on fossils at the library (which
depicted a fern fossil on the cover) and casually asked my mom during a
subsequent road trip the WVa if there were any fossils to find. She said
"yes" and the rest is history! later came the Calvert Cliffs excursions,
which incidentally my family and I just did last weekend for the entire
weekend) then Cretaceous marine stuff from the Franklin Mts and
Carboniferous marine from the Hueco Mts, both near El Paso, TX. etc., etc.
Also, regarding the Aurora product line, I have but one mostly complete
model of Styracosaurus still left and have to constantly fight off my son
who now wants it! Saving my very meager allowance of just 50 cents/week (!)
I also managed to buy the "Tar Pits", Pteranodon, Neanderthal Man,
Carboniferous Swamp, Triceratops, Allosaurus and a couple other scenes but
those are now just fond and distant memories. I have tried tracking down
Aurora products on line only to find a few "collectors" of such models and
no current production. Too bad, they could make a killing if someone were to
ever revive that line utilizing what we now know!
And unlike the models I once had I still DO have most of my first fossil
collection from WVa. But I digress...

If you do get out to Front Royal, do let us know what you find!



Thomas R. Lipka
Geobiological Research
Baltimore, Md. USA



-----Original Message-----
From: owner-dinosaur@usc.edu [mailto:owner-dinosaur@usc.edu]On Behalf Of
Steve Brusatte
Sent: Thursday, July 18, 2002 9:28 PM
To: dinosaur@usc.edu
Subject: Fossil Attractions in Virginia

Hey all,
Next week I'll take a much-needed break from work, psittacosaur studies, and
thinking about the insane impending baseball strike when I will travel to
Virginia.  I won't have much time to explore fossil attractions, but I am
wondering if the list has any suggestions.

I am aware of the major ones (i.e. the Virginia Museum of Natural History in
Martinsville), but are there any other sites that are worth visiting?  Any
other museums, especially in the Norfolk/Williamsburg area?  I know of an EJ
footprint site near Culpepper...are some of these tracks on display
anywhere?  And, there is supposidely a dinosaur model park somewhere in the
Shenandoah Valley.  Has anyone checked this out?

Thanks for any suggestions!  Reply on or off-list, if you wish.


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