Along roads less traveled.
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Campground: Hat Rock Campground, Hermiston, OR
This was a day of travel on roads less traveled—no major highways.
Our goal today was to have a stop at the John Day Fossil Bed National Monument, feeling that this would provide an
In the 1860s, Paleontology was still a very new science. The discoveries of Thomas Condon, a Congregational minister, spurred scientific interest in the region. Studies began seriously in the late 1800s and continue to this day. "Under the hills and valleys of eastern Oregon is one of the richest fossil beds on Earth, an ancient record spanning most of the Age of Mammals." “These Fossil beds expose extraordinarily well preserved specimens. Also remarkable is the great number and variety of fossils.” The studies uncover an amazing array of evolutionary events: global and local changes in the distant past, climate fluctuations, mass extinctions, and life forms new to science. Information found here reveals clues to our present and a glimpse of what our future could hold.”
Looking at the pictures of these hills, it’s hard to imagine that forty-four million years ago, this area was a “wet, lush, semi-tropical forest with many vines and creepers.” Evidence of 300 plant species, including 175 fruits and nuts from that time period has been found. The museum at the Sheep Rock site has 8 different exhibits from time periods beginning 44 MYA (million years ago) up through 7 MYA. From the brochure, it would have been interesting to see the changes reflected in each of these exhibits—changes in plant life as well as animal life. We found it fascinating
The geological features of the two sites alone were striking. The painted hills that I mentioned earlier were so different from the formations and striations at the Sheep Rock site. Knowing how my parents enjoyed things like this, I couldn’t help but think of them when we were driving through these areas and the surrounding ones.