Opening a Quarry

At the end of spring, on the eve of summer, each year the Museums of Western Colorado prepares to open the Mygatt-Moore Quarry in Rabbit Valley for dig season. It’s not as easy as just unlocking a gate and digging with a shovel… We first have to remove the excess dirt and rock we put over the quarry every fall. We do this to protect the site from fossil poaching, vandalism, and to keep winter and spring rain and melt from ponding in the quarry – causing damage to the fossils still waiting to be excavating. Using a small backhoe and front loader, we carefully remove the excess fill dirt within a few inches of the quarry layer. The final layers of dirt we remove by hand shoveling.

We then park our equipment trailer, with burlap, straps, buckets and of course picks and shovels at the quarry. Shade tarps and picnic tables are unloaded from the trailer and set up on the site. And finally, we re-survey the grid reference points for our quarry maps, making sure the old maps will match with new ones from the 2017 season. Areas of the quarry are prioritized for work by the curator of paleontology, to make sure we make the most of every expedition day in the quarry.

It takes only a couple of days, with a lot of help from Don Kerven (Head of Maintenance), volunteers, and field crew, but when we’re done, we are ready to go to work – looking for dinosaurs in the original Jurassic Park of the American West. The best part about our field work, is that we get to take the public with us – dinosaur enthusiasts as young as 5 years old, help us make the discoveries that push science forward and keep us all young at heart. The 2017 Paleontology Expeditions schedule is now available on our website here. We are excited to open the quarry and see what new discoveries the 2017 season will bring!