drumheller: dinosaur capital of canada

now that i'm home, and i've never really given you people of the innerweb what its like. here is a brief overview of my hometown of drumheller!!!

keeping in mind overview. while i'm visiting town as part of my 5th hatching day present i'm sure i'll post on many of the specifics (and link them to here later) in more detail. this is to just to give you a rough feel of the place, and the basic facts of a place i've mentioned a lot in the past.

so with that in mind welcome to virtual drumheller! obviously not quite as 3D or walk throughable as the real one, but i'm a dinosaur of limited means...

(Production Note: Picture of Samuel Drumheller from here)

drumheller got its start in around the 1900's. though it had long been known that this area of canada was rich in coal (due to the exploits of joesph burr tyrrell) not much development or settlement had occurred to exploit it.
that all changed when samuel drumheller came through the area, while he was trying to help his cousin find a ranch to buy. at this time the whole area was nothing more than farms/ranches on homesteads.
the story goes that on a particularly bad winter night the two drumheller boys stumbled into the homestead of one thomas greentree. letting themselves into the empty house (greentree had gotten trapped by the weather at a neighboring ranch) they made themselves comfortable until the coal for the fire ran out. following the tracks left by greentree, samuel noted the very large coal deposit in the hill that he collected from. after spending the night the two men left some money as compensation to their absent host and trekked back to calgary.
once back in calgary samuel learned of a last minute decsion by the CP trainline that would bring the new line of the railway extraordinarily close to the greentree homestead. a business venture struck the young drumheller. if he bought the homestead he could develop it and the area into the primary supplier of coal for the railway. legend has it he was so eager to make the purchase he hired a taxi and had it drive him from calgary across the frozen red deer river to greentree's farm. the taxi ride is only a legend mind you... one way or the other he made a deal with greentree.
with the purchase of this land, drumheller established a site for a town to accommodate the coal miners he was hoping would come to work the area. drumheller and greentree came into conflict when greetree figured out why drumheller had been willing to pay so generously for his land. at one point the town was almost called greentree, but the more savvy drumheller won out in the end (though the only mall in town now bears greentree's name).
with the completion of the rail line samuel drumheller's town quickly boomed into a city with a population of over 30 000. at the valley's height 27 coal mines were in operation. as of the great depression however the city slowly began to diminish, and the switch from coal to oil in the second world war virtually ended the coal industry (with the exception of the atlas coal mine which operated until the late 70's).
around each of the various coal mines sub communities formed, and they often ended up being named after their mine. many of these still exist today as remnants in various forms. the villas and villages of wayne, nacmine (north american coal mine), and rosedale. many neighborhoods in drumheller are named after their mines as well such as midland, newcastle, and monarch.
with the death of the coal industry, drumheller shruck and simply became another prairie farming town. however for such a town it is actually quite big. not a city big mind you, but its got around 8,000 people which for around the great plains of canada is fairly large.

the recent fossil fuel boom of alberta has caused drumheller to start booming itself again in the last few years. all the mesezioc rocks which make it famous for dinosaurs also hold a lot of oil and natural gas. which of course people come and take out of the ground. so it is once again a town on the rise.
of course it is these mesizoic rocks that bring me into the story. in more than one way if you follow me (due to my egg fossilizing here and all, and also my growing up here... well you get the idea!). being laid down in the late cretaceous they are part of a series of rocks that contain one of the best fossil records of dinosaurs anywhere in the world!
so rich were these dinosaur remains, that in the 1910's the great canadian dinosaur rush began. fossil hunters were sent on behalf of museums and institutions in new york, ottawa, and even europe here to collect dinosaurs. as a result many of the most famous cretaceous dinosaur species and skeletons on display throughout the world come from the red deer river valley.
now keep in mind drumheller is located in just one portion of the red deer river valley's dinosaur bearing rocks. though the town does have many fossils around it, they are not as abundant or as spectacular as those found further south down the river in dinosaur provincal park (DPP from here on in, as its pretty big to type).
i'll be very likely to palaeo FACT about the red deer river valley's geology and fossils soon. so either check this in a couple of weeks for a link or just follow the blog regularly.
however due to both DPP's more remote location, and having lots of of people visiting it would make it hard to protect the area, drumheller was selected instead to be developed into a dinosaur tourist site. hundreds of thousands of people visit the town each year to catch a glimpse of the prehistoric past now.
the town doesn't disappoint these visitors either. as it has put a lot into making the town the dinosaur capital of the world...

scattered throughout town, since 2000 anyways, are dozens of "cementosaurs". now these are NOT a type of dinosaur you've never heard of. it is simply a name for the dinosaur statues around town. they vary from really realistic to outright awful. most are in between, like this rather old skool tyrannosaurus you run into going downtown on riverside drive.
many of these (including this t-rex) are from a locally famous theme park, called the prehistoric park (sadly not nigel marvin's), that was built in the 1960's. with the death of the owner/creator of the statues in the 80's they just sat in a isolated corner of town for a decade. that is until the town had the clever idea of spreading them out around town for all to see. which is where they are today. giving drumheller a fun flavour.

also many buildings have murals and paintings of various prehistoric scenes on them...

in fact pretty much everywhere including plain old grocery stores, have something dinosaur related attached to them.

the pinnacle of the dinosaur theme though has to be the "world's largest dinosaur" located on the river front. right beside the only bridge crossing the red deer river in the valley, it is both hard to miss due to its size and its location.

i'll be blogging about all the cementosaurs, murals, and the world's largest dinosaur soon.

of course the cementosaurs aren't the only dinosaurs in town, and these other ones were what led to my having to leave town in the first place! these vivus-dinosaurs (as professor paradigm calls them) are pretty common around here too. among the most common are the duck-bills (as they were the most common large dinosaur around here, millions of years ago) and the most common of the common are the edmontosaurs like these ones pictured here.

i'm sure i'll be covering several of these vivus-dinos as i bump into them on the trip...

the dinosaur attractions don't seem to stop popping up either it seems. since my departure from town 2 years ago, there is a new museum under construction. that's kinda weird.
of course it like all the other pre-mentioned dinosaur attractions are only the warm-up for the real attraction in town...

my old home, the royal tyrrell museum.

the tyrrell museum has been the centrepiece and backbone of the dinosaur tourist phenomenon in drumheller for over 20 years.

stay tuned as my next post will be a close look at this great institution of palaeontology!

Next: The Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology!

also don't forget about the special themed "my favourite museum" boneyard being hosted here next week!

please no matter who you are, do up a post about a museum special to you and send a link (as in the url address of that post) here to the tyrannosaur chronicles!

the deadline is dec. 2nd...


Dinorider d'Andoandor said...

nice to visit drumheller and its cool cementosaurs!

BTW did you have jetlag problems?

Raptor Lewis said...

Now, I REALLY wanna visit Canada!!

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