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Canon City Is Home Of 1st Dinosaur Hunters

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Garden Park Fossil Area (credit: CBS)

Garden Park Fossil Area (credit: CBS)

CANON CITY, Colo. (CBS4) – Just outside of Canon City is the Garden Park Fossil Area, which gave birth to the one of the great rivalries in paleontology.

Residents of the area first discovered dinosaur bones in the 1870s, but it was the battle between Othaniel C. Marsh and Edward Drinker Cope that fueled the nation’s fascination with the Jurassic Period.

“It is actually that rivalry that led to tremendous public interest in dinosaurs,” said Bureau of Land Management geologist Dan Grenard. “We think there’s maybe no better place that represents dinosaurs than Canon City and the Garden Park area.”

The area is still home to the quarries where teams sponsored by Cope and Marsh excavated for dinosaurs.

“The dinosaurs that came out of here were fully articulated skeletons,” said Grenard, “and the importance of that is immense.”

But the history of the region encompasses more than just fossils.

“It’s not just the richness of the paleontological resource and the earth history, it’s actually the history of people in North America,” said Bruce Schumacker, a paleontologist with the U.S. Forest Service.

“You’re really looking at the inception of North American paleontology here in Garden Park.”

Visitors to the region can tour both the Dinosaur Depot museum in Canon City as well as walk the trails through the quarries which have signage along the way to share the story of the dinosaurs found during that “dinosaur” war.

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