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Dinosaur Highway

A History of Dinosaur Valley State Park

Laurie Jasinski

Publication Year: 2008

Where the Paluxy River now winds through the North Texas Hill Country, the great lizards of prehistory once roamed, leaving their impressive footprints deep in the limy sludge of what would become the earth’s Cretaceous layer. It wouldn’t be until a summer day in 1909, however, when George Adams went splashing along the creekbed, that chance and shifting sediments would reveal these stony traces of an ancient past. Young Adams’s first discovery of dinosaur tracks in the Paluxy River Valley, near the small community of Glen Rose, Texas, came more than one hundred million years after the reign of the dinosaurs. During this prehistoric era, herds of lumbering “sauropods” and tri-toed, carnivorous “theropods” made their way along what was then an ancient “dinosaur highway.” Today, their long-ago footsteps are immortalized in the limestone of the riverbed, arousing the curiosity of picnickers and paleontologists alike. Indeed, nearly a century after their first discovery, the “stony oddities” of Somervell County continue to draw Saturday-afternoon tourists, renowned scholars, and dinosaur enthusiasts from across the nation and around the globe. In her careful, and colorful, history of Dinosaur Valley State Park, Jasinski deftly interweaves millennia of geological time with local legend, old photographs, and quirky anecdotes of the people who have called the valley home. Beginning with the valley’s “first visitors”---the dinosaurs---Jasinski traces the area’s history through to the decades of the twentieth century, when new track sites continued to be discovered, and visitors and locals continued to leave their own material imprint upon the changing landscape. The book reaches its culmination in the account of the hard-won battle fought by Somervell residents and officials during the latter decades of the century to secure Dinosaur Valley’s preservation as a state park.

Published by: TCU Press

Series: Chisholm Trail Series


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Table of Contents

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p. vii

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pp. ix-xi

Years ago, I spent countless pleasant hours recording my grandmother’s stories about traveling the Texas Hill Country. My grandparents, Joe and Laurie Sanders, enjoyed many Sunday drives. During the course of poring over scads of mementos and photographs with my grandmother, a strange and amazing...

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Chapter One: The Changing Face of North Central Texas

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pp. 1-12

The crystal green waters of the Paluxy River dance through a carved valley of limestone cliffs that rise above the stream. In the distance, cedar-clad hills profile the rugged landscape, checkered with broad grassy pastures tossed here and there like blankets. For decades the river influenced the lives of the valley'€™s...

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Chapter Two: Fountains of Youth

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pp. 13-27

In the 1830s the land of North Central Texas remained a wild country of expansive prairies and wooded streams, but as settlement marched north and west, colonizers eyed this wilderness. In 1831 Stephen F. Austin and Samuel May Williams proposed to homestead eight hundred families on a large grant...

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Chapter Three: Making Tracks

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pp. 29-50

At the dawn of the twentieth century, Glen Rose trumpeted its Northern Hill Country to a growing flock of recreation seekers and health advocates as it entered its heyday as a resort town. With a seemingly limitless water supply and a pleasant climate, county residents utilized the natural resources the countryside had to offer. Somervell County'™s 3,498...

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Chapter Four: Work and Play on Paluxy “Creek”

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pp. 51-59

As the effects of the stock market crash in October 1929 settled upon Somervell County, to residents, the slogan "€œFor Health and Pleasure"€ didn'€™t ring so true as "€œfor survival."€ Crop markets and decent prices dried up. Cotton that had sold for as high as forty cents a pound in 1920 brought only five cents a decade later...

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Chapter Five: The Dinosaur Hunter and the Texas Village

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pp. 61-68

The November sun angled golden ribbons across Dillard Wilson'€™s field. The air breathed crisp, with a whiff of smokiness that fingered through the cedar hills and down the valley. Thanksgiving was coming, and Christmas would follow. Doyle Wilson busied himself with chores, but his thoughts strayed to the coming...

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Chapter Six: In the Footsteps of the Dinosaurs

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pp. 69-89

R.T. Bird drove into Glen Rose to the astonishment of all, his Buick'™s roof adorned with a most unusual ornament- €”the giant cast of the sauropod track. Residents had recognized the county'€™s acclaimed theropod prints as items of curiosity and commerce that boosted the area'€™s tourist appeal, however, most...

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Chapter Seven: The Fight for Dinosaur Valley

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pp. 91-106

Around the Lanham Mill community, the hoopla of the dinosaur track quarry in 1940 soon died down on the eve of great upheavals in the world and on the homefront as well. World War II took many Somervell County sons away, including several of the Wilson boys who served in the army. When Novella May Wilson’s...

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Chapter Eight: To Capture a Park—Landscape and Riverscape and Trailway

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pp. 107-119

November 1967 loomed over Somervell County's dreams of preserving its dinosaur tracks as part of a park. While the option deadline for purchasing the land marched closer, residents looked for a champion to come forward. They would find two....

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Chapter Nine: Growing Pains for Dinosaur Valley State Park

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pp. 121-138

Somervell County citizens pinned their hopes on their new state park and believed that Dinosaur Valley symbolized the dawn of a new era of tourism for Glen Rose in 1970. For one of the smallest and poorest counties in the state, securing a portion of the Paluxy Valley for posterity represented an amazing feat...

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Chapter Ten: Maintaining the Dinosaur Highway and "The Dinosaur Waltz"

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pp. 139-160

"€œDinosaur hunters"€ young and old make tracks to the Paluxy riverbed to spy traces of the ancients. They follow in the footsteps of several generations that have traipsed along Somervell County's a€™s streambeds to see for themselves a piece of the region'€™s past set in stone. Floods and drouths, farmers, nuclear...


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pp. 161-189


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pp. 190-200


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pp. 201-212

E-ISBN-13: 9780875654737
E-ISBN-10: 0875654738
Print-ISBN-13: 9780875653754
Print-ISBN-10: 0875653758

Page Count: 225
Publication Year: 2008

Edition: 1
Series Title: Chisholm Trail Series
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OCLC Number: 794701376
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Dinosaur Highway

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Subject Headings

  • Dinosaur Valley State Park (Tex.) -- History.
  • Dinosaur Valley State Park (Tex.) -- Biography.
  • Natural history -- Texas -- Dinosaur Valley State Park.
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