Visit the Birthplace of American Paleontology in… Kentucky?
When I think of paleontology, my mind automatically goes to dinosaurs. And, when I think of paleontology in the United States, I think of states like Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, Montana, New Mexico, and Texas. But there are so many facets to paleontology. Paleontology is the study of fossils and fossils range anywhere from dinos to ocean creatures, to plants, and even native peoples.
What is Big Bone Lick Historic Park?
Big Bone Lick Historic Park located in Union Kentucky is the self-proclaimed birthplace of American Paleontology. Located in Boone County, a bit north of Louisville resides a state park with a very unique draw. The name of the park comes from a particular type of fossil formation located there. The Pleistocene Megafauna Fossil. As a part of the Lewis and Clark Heritage Trail, there are lots of things to be discovered here.
President Thomas Jefferson may well have had the Peale mastodon in mind when he commissioned Captain Meriwether Lewis and Second Lieutenant William Clark to lead the first American expedition to explore the western territories. The Lewis and Clark Expedition, also known as the Corps of Discovery, was sanctioned shortly after the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. Among Jefferson’s instructions was a request to keep alert for mammoths, living or dead. The perilous journey began in May 1804 and lasted through September 1806. The expedition passed through a number of important fossil localities including Big Bone Lick, Kentucky, and the Falls of the Ohio fossil site, Indiana. -nps.org
Big Bone Lick State Park was a Lewis and Clark expedition in 1807 due to a request from president Thomas Jefferson. It was then that the state park gained its claim to being the birthplace of American Paleontology. Due to a natural salt deposit in the area, it drew in a crowd of many different forms of life. Including mammoths, various forms of bison, musk ox, and mastodons. The area is also home to a natural water spring, which created a marshy environment, many of these animals became entrapped due to the landscape around the salt lick and perished. Leaving behind ancient remains for future explorers to discover.
Modern Day Exploration
The things to see and do at this park are bountiful. Whether you visit the bison that still reside in the state park, visit the gift shop for some take-home goodies, or venture out to the salt springs on the walking trail. Take a tour of the museum to learn more about the history of the area, and enjoy new exhibits. In collaboration with the Cincinnati Museum Center, they have created some amazing fresh things to see within the museum.
Park grounds are open year-round and close daily at dark. The gift shop and museum are open Sunday-Saturday from 9 am to 4 pm. The park's discovery trail begins at the Megafauna diorama pit. The half-mile trail is paved and leads visitors to explore the salt/sulfur springs, Park travelers can also bird watch, camp, and enjoy the playgrounds. The park has a seasonally operational swimming pool as well that is open for campground guests.
Join in on paranormal investigations, Saturday, September 17th with park crew members in various locations within the park. There will be a variety of investigating equipment for guests. Meet up time is 8:30 pm at the museum. Preregistration is required for ages 16 and up, Tickets are $25 Call the park office at (859) 384-3522 ext. 4 to preregister for this event.
Saturday, October 1st kicks off haunted mini golf which will be held every weekend next month. This year brings about a new theme to the mini golf course! This is a family event suitable for all ages and is $5.00 a person.
Salt Festival- Saturday, October 15th, this festival will feature pioneer life demonstrations, a fun and interactive way to relive a historical era. The crafter's corner will have plenty of items to browse through including handmade/crafted items for purchase. Folk and bluegrass music will be played live, and storytellers will be there as well to recount some folktales. For more information on admission rates and hours can be found on their social media page.
Monster Mash Bash is to be held on October 21st, more details on this event are yet to be posted, but stay tuned to the park's Facebook page for more information on this upcoming event as it becomes available.