Tule Springs Fossil Beds National Monument (TUSK) - Trip Notes for 02/21/2018

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This page last updated on 02/22/2018
(Fig. 01)

Directions: There are three commonly recognized entrance locations for the Tule Springs Fossil Beds National Monument; refer to the "future  kiosk" (in red) on the map in (Fig. 02). When looking for the area of the area of the 1962-63 "Big Dig", a four-month intensive study chronicled by National Geographic, this 1,000 plus acre site is represented as the verticle hatched rectangle on the map in (Fig. 02). It is east of Decatur and north of Horse Drive. The intersection of Aliante Parkway and Horse Drive is the best location for entering the area of the archaeological site containing several parts of the trenches dug during the "Big Dig" and the original camp site.
(Fig. 02)
(Fig. 03)

02/21/2018 Trip Notes: Today, Bob Croke, Jim Herring, Ron Ziance, and I drove to the Aliante Pkwy location to enter the Tule Springs Archaeological Site in the TUSK National Monument in search of the trenches dug during the "big dig" (Fig. 01). The picture in (Fig. 01) beneath the sign was taken at the corner of Aliante and Horse Drive looking due north. The sides of the road in this area are fenced and marked "TUSK" as the boundary of the national monument in an effort to prevent people from taking off road vehicles onto the site. (Fig. 03).  The view in (Fig. 01) was taken at this location looking out into TUSK. To read more about this national monument go to ... Tule Springs Fossil Beds National Monument (TUSK) - Summary Page. In 1933, quarry workers unearthed a pile of bones from a mammoth. The site became known as "Tule the Baby Mammoth." This discovery led to the Tule Springs expedition, led by paleontologist Fenley Hunter of the American Museum of Natural History. During the "Big Dig" of the 1963-64 They had one of the world's largest bulldozers dig nearly two miles of trenches in search of fossils (Fig. 04). Though they were originally quite deep, some of them were subsequently partially filled in. The location of this trench can be seen on (Fig. 05). Then, in 2004, it is said that almost 10,000 fossils were removed from the southern portion of the area and curated in the San Bernardino County Museum in California. Of the thousands of fossils that have been excavated within the now Tule Springs Fossil Beds National Monument, probably the most recognized fossil is the tusk of a Columbian Mammoth (Fig. 06). The map below is an aerial view of the area we hiked (Fig. 05); the area where the "big dig" occurred. As we entered the monument, we headed out across the barren Las Vegas Wash in a north westerly direction (Fig. 07). (Con't below)

(Fig. 04)

(Fig. 05)

(Fig. 06)
(Fig. 07)
Trip Notes Continued: From this point we weaved our way across the wash (Figs. 08-10). Once we reached the power line we turned west until we encountered what we thought look liked a large trench (Fig. 11) facing north. Turning and heading south (Fig. 12) we eventually came to the entrance of a crumbling trench that had signs on both signs saying "No Entry". At the very end of this long trench we came upon a grouping of shells and snails (Figs. 13 & 14). On the hike back to our starting point I passed a Desert Tortoise burrow that seemed to be several deep (Fig. 015). Though we didn't see any fossils, it was a pleasant hike. We're looking forward to maybe hiking this area again with a knowledgeable guide in the near future.

(Fig. 08)
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(Fig. 10)
(Fig. 11)
(Fig. 12)
(Fig. 13)
(Fig. 14)
(Fig. 15)