HISTORY & DISCOVERIES

In 1877, some of the best-known dinosaurs were first discovered by Arthur Lakes, a professor at the Colorado School of Mines in Golden. These included Apatosaurus; Stegosaurus, the Colorado State Fossil; and Allosaurus. These specimens represent animals that lived 150 million years ago in the Late Jurassic Period, also known as the "Age of Giants."

In 1937, during the construction of West Alameda Parkway, dinosaur tracks were discovered on the east side of Dinosaur Ridge in the 100-million-year-old rocks of the Dakota Group, representing the Early Cretaceous Period. These tracks are those of duck-billed herbivores and ostrich-like carnivorous dinosaurs.  Recent research has revealed that these tracks represent only a small part of the extensive track-bearing beds of the Dakota Group, which can be traced from Boulder, Colorado, to northern New Mexico. Because these strata represent the shoreline sediments of an ancient seaway that was frequently trampled by dinosaurs, these beds have been called the "Dinosaur Freeway."

1860
Nearby Rooney Ranch was homesteaded in the early 1860s.

1874
T. rex tooth was found nearby on South Table Mountain and recognized as that of a large carnivorous dinosaur. (T. rex was not formally named by paleontologists until a partial skeleton was unearthed in Montana in 1905).

1877
First material ever collected from the world-famous Morrison Formation of Late Jurassic age was found at Dinosaur Ridge. Some of the best-known dinosaurs were found here, including Stegosaurus, Apatosaurus, Diplodocus, and Allosaurus. Fifteen quarries were opened along the Dakota Hogback in the Morrison area in search of these fossils.

1879
Otis Rooney discovered the first horned dinosaur remains from a gulch near the intersection of the present Alameda Parkway, Bear Creek Boulevard, and West Jewell Avenue.

1887
First Triceratops discovery to be published was found near present day North Federal Boulevard in Denver. (The two larger of the three horns were found and were originally thought to be bison horns.)

1902
Arthur Lakes discovered the first dinosaur footprints in Colorado along the Front Range near Colorado Springs.

1937
Alameda Parkway was constructed to provide access to Red Rocks Park. Workers discovered hundreds of dinosaur footprints. These were found to include mostly Iguanodon-like footprints, perhaps from Eolambia. Carnivorous theropod tracks were also present.

1952
Otis and Al Rooney built the house that is now the Dinosaur Ridge Main Visitor Center Gift Shop.

1973
The Dinosaur Ridge area was recognized for its uniqueness as well as its historical and scientific significance when it was designated the Morrison Fossil Area National Natural Landmark by the National Park Service.

1975
The Council Tree on Dinosaur Ridge and Rooney Ranch was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

1988
Kickoff meeting “Re. Development and Protection of Colorado’s Dinosaur Resources” (the origin of Friends of Dinosaur Ridge) was held at the University of Colorado at Denver.

1989
The Friends of Dinosaur Ridge formed to address increasing concerns regarding the preservation of the site and to offer educational programs on the area's resources.

1990
Dinosaur Ridge published "A Field Guide to Dinosaur Ridge."

1992
A concretion fell out of Dinosaur Ridge south hillside revealing decayed wood almost completely altered to carbon.

1992
First major paleontological excavation since the Yale dinosaur bone excavations of the late 1870s took place on Dinosaur Ridge . Six parallel trackways were revealed.

1995
Dinosaur Ridge piloted its first summer camp for 10- to 12-year-old students. Two one-week sessions were held.

1996
Construction began on the Dinosaur Ridge Visitor Center in the historic house on Dinosaur Ridge's Main Visitor Center property. Visitor Center officially opened on October 22, 1996.

1998
Dinosaur Ridge completed the Bone Site stabilization project.

1999
The main tracksite pedestrian ramp and seating area were completed on Dinosaur Ridge.

2000
The Dan Turner Field Experience Fund was created to assist lower-income school children with the cost of visiting Dinosaur Ridge.

2001
Stabilization of Brontosaur Bulges was completed on west side of Dinosaur Ridge.

2001
Friends of Dinosaur Ridge’s first executive director, Joe Tempel, was appointed.

2001
Dinosaur Ridge renovated the historic barn and moved its administrative offices there.

2002
Fossil Trace Golf Course opened and FoDR began hosting tours of the fossils and tracks at the location that became known as Triceratops Trail.

2004
Triceratops Trail was completed at Fossil Trace Golf Course.

2006
Dinosaur Ridge was selected by the Denver Post as one of the “Top 10 Things to Do Before You Die.”

2006
Dinosaur Ridge Adopt-a-Track program began.

2008
Trek Through Time, our indoor exhibit hall, opened in the historic barn.

2008
Alameda Parkway was closed to vehicular traffic.

2009
The location of Arthur Lakes’ lost Quarry 1 was rediscovered ~0.5 mile north of Dinosaur Ridge along County Road 93.

2009
EarthTime Project, scientists from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, dated three separate layers of ash exposed at Dinosaur Ridge's “Ash Beds” using the uranium-lead zircon method of dating.

2009
Friends of Dinosaur Ridge, the Morrison Natural History Museum, and Triebold Paleontology, operator of the Rocky Mountain Dinosaur Resource Center in Woodland Park, formed the Dinosaur Corridor.

2011
A roadrunner spent six months at Dinosaur Ridge (well north of its usual natural range).

2013
The Council Tree was named a Jefferson County Historic Landmark.

2013
The Dinosaur Ridge Discovery Center opened on the west side of Dinosaur Ridge

2016
Dr. Martin Lockley announced the discovery of two newly-recognized ichnofossils at Dinosaur Ridge. These “leks,” were pseudo-nests constructed by dinosaurs during courtship. A new raptor track was also discovered at Dinosaur Ridge. This was the first discovered in Colorado and only the second found in North America.

 

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Morrison, CO 80465

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HISTORY & DISCOVERIES