field journal #8

francis slate may have gone to great lengths to hide his activities a 100 years ago, during the great canadian dinosaur rush, but the mystery surrounding him was about to be under threat. as it was no longer just me hunting for his lost quarrys...

i now had a "team"... well 2 other people, tony and yumi, but that could be considered a team after a fashion (just not a very big one)... both of whom were going to help me track down mr. slate and his past operations.

with more people in gathered to the cause, all we had to do now was go to a suitable location to apply ourselves. as i had reasonable evidence that a lot of mr. slate's exploits (in the drumheller region anyway) were based around some of the 20+ coal mines operating in the area at the time, we would need to focus our efforts around these former mine sites.

i'd already checked out the most obvious coal mine in the valley, the atlas historic site, but fortunately for us one more mine that was still easy to find...

midland provincal park.

this name might sound familiar, and if you read my blog a lot you'd be right. midland has come up before, as the tyrrell museum is situated in this park. however we weren't going to be looking around the museum as (i already had, and) it marked the outer west boundary of the park, and wasn't what the park was established for originally.

midland provincal park had been setup in the beginning to perserve the site and artifacts of the old midland coal mine.

we wanted look around this old mine, so we needed to search the park's interior (as opposed to the fringe of the mine's propery that is around the tyrrell).

within minutes of wandering the park we encountered plenty of evidence of the once bustling mining activity. there were 4 old mining carts in our first search area, this one here being the most intact of the lot.

it was cool to think that this had once been used to bring loads of coal out of the hills around us, and back out to the surface for the first time in 72 million years!

it became pretty clear why they'd been mining this area. though there were many excellent fossil bearing layers of sandstone and mudstone, there were 3 thick huge coal seams running between the fossil layers!

then as i walked around a bend my heart nearly stopped. on the hill in front of me was a bunch of junk!
why was i so excited by old timbers and random debris? because one man's garbage can be a tyrannosaur's treasure...
was this evidence of an old slate quarry?!?

turning around to excitedly call over tony and yumi, i realized the few scraps i saw on the hillside were just the tip of the... uh coal-berg. scattered all around me were yet more remenants and left overs of the coal mine's operations... definately not stuff left behind by francis slate.
i saddened a little bit. it made sense that a coal mine which operated for over two decades, and whose purpose was to tear apart the landscape around me, would leave a lot more evidence of its existence than a single palaeontologist passing through here for a couple days...
this presented me with a new problem (and no doubt one of the reasons slate had remained elusive for all these years). if i was going to find slate around these mines, i couldn't count on over half the means that darren tanke uses to find lost quarrys. (which is probably why he seldom bothers looking for lost quarrys around drumheller. the mines cause a lot of artifact pollution!)
fortunately i wasn't looking for unknown mystery quarrys. i had photographs of slate working this area. meaning i had one sure fire way of pin pointing where he was working. i'd have to find the actually spot of the dig sites and make sure i was watching the landscape around me carefully to not miss them!

midland ended up a bust, but not to worry. tony already had another site in mind for tomorrow...

1 comment:

Raptor Lewis said...

Awww..soo close! :( Don't give up, Traum! You're getting closer. No one, not even Slate, can remain elusive forever. ;)