2014 Mining History Association Tour
Picketwire Canyon Dinosaur Trackway
Tour Leaders: Fred Barnard and Kevin Lindahl
June 15, 2014
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The Picketwire Canyonlands are located in the Comanche National Grassland south of La Junta, CO (about 80 miles northeast of Trinidad). They are home to the largest dinosaur track site in North America. In addition to its natural history, the area has a rich cultural history. Our U. S. Forest Service Guide, Kevin Lindahl, led the caravan of 4-wheel drive vehicles through two locked gates, across U. S. Army land and the Grassland, and then into the canyon. In addition to the trackway, prehistoric petroglyphs and the historic Rourke Ranch site (1871-1900) were visited.The trackway, discovered in the 1930’s, is in the Morrison Formation (Jurassic age limestone, 150 million years old). The Purgatoire River has exposed the quarter mile long trackway with over 1300 footprints of huge plant-eating sauropods (like the 100 foot long Apatosaurus) traveling in herds, as well as solitary carnivorous theropod dinosaurs (like the Allosaurus).
Pictographs such as these are on sandstone outcrops throughout the canyon.
MHAers, Fred Barnard, and Kevin Lindahl stand amid dozens of theropod tracks on the north bank of the Purgatoire River.
Close-up view of theropod tracks with models of the canyon’s Jurassic inhabitants.
Why are the best dinosaur tracks always on the other side of the river?
These long lines of tracks were left by two Apatosaurs traveling together along the shoreline of an ancient sea.
The long lines of tracks are crossed by those of other dinosaurs. A great spot for lunch with the dinosaurs!
One of the larger Apatosaur tracks with an MHAer’s foot for scale.
The restored house at the Rourke family‘s Wineglass Ranch. Eugene Rourke emigrated from Ireland as a child, grew up in Illinois, worked for two years in the Colorado mining camp of Black Hawk, and then, in 1871, used his mining earnings to purchase the ranch.
The ranch outbuildings are of adobe and log construction. They are protected from further deterioration by metal roofs.
A close-up view of the construction of barn walls and roof.
Photo Credits: Mike and Pat Kaas, Fred Barnard
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