Wednesday, February 28, 2024

The Bones War

   I enjoy doing the research for my stories, sometimes too much so, as one thing leads to another and suddenly several hours have passed.

 While researching 1878 Colorado, two fascinating events caught my attention. One was the Great Eclipse, and the other was the Bones War. Both occurrences seemed like great external elements and conflict for my story, Break Heart Canyon.

    The discovery of dinosaur artifacts in Como Bluff, Wyoming and Garden Park, Colorado, sparked the public's interest in dinosaurs and caused much ado back East. Known as the Great Dinosaur Rush, the competition to attain the best examples led to ruthless skullduggery as fossil hunters flooded west. 
    During this time of expansion, in order to amaze and amuse their friends, many elites on the East Coast searched the world over for unusual items—dinosaur artifacts now topped the list. But the two main real-life players in the battle for bones were Othniel Charles Marsh and Edward Drinker Cope.  

    Edward Drinker Cope and Othniel Charles Marsh  Photo illustration by Slate. Photos by Creative Commons.

Cope was a member of Philadelphia’s Academy of Natural Sciences and Marsh was a professor at the Peabody Museum of Natural History at Yale. They fought fiercely trying to outdo one another as they sought the best specimens to garner not only fame, but government funds and contributions for their various projects. 

The only time they seemed in agreement was when they both tried to destroy a third rival, a mild-mannered, older gent named Joseph Leidy, the first U.S. paleontologist of vertebrates.

Fortunately for the world, Leidy retreated from “the war in the West” and turned to microscopic endeavors discovering the microorganism in pork that causes trichinosis, and the source of canine heartworm.

The feud between Marsh and Cope led to some of the greatest discoveries of dinosaur remains. But as shipments of unearthed artifacts heading for the coast were stolen at gunpoint, and spies and double agents existed in both excavation camps, their mutual blind ambition let to a harmful impact on their personal life and careers. Eventually, both men lost their funding and their credibility.

As science began to interest the everyday man, I’m sure it changed how the characters in our books thought about the world around them, and what dreams and aspirations they may have harbored. What must they have thought of those gigantic bones and skeletons? I know my hero and heroine were intrigued, but also at odds with one another over digging up the land for such treasure.

The Bones War came to an end, but the effects had a lasting effect on Colorado. In 1982, Governor Richard Lamm named the Stegosaurus the official state fossil. 

There are several places in Colorado to see dinosaur bones firsthand! Here is a website that lists places to see displays, digs, and footprints.    

During the same year, 1878, the Great Eclipse occurred, again putting Colorado in the spotlight. More on that momentous event next time... 


Blurb: Unearthing artifacts in Colorado sounded like easy money to Ryker Landry. Then he met the woman who owned the land. 

Una MacLaren vows no fortune hunter will desecrate the ancient relics of BreakHeart Canyon—even if the man is a handsome scoundrel. Fighting to keep her goat farm afloat, as local cattlemen hatch deadly schemes to make sure she fails, Una has enough to worry about. 

Captivated by the courageous redhead, Ryker joins forces with Una and her deerhound, MacTavish. But what does he desire most—the woman or the artifacts? 

When the mythical white cougar again prowls the rocky cliffs, the legend of Break Heart Canyon draws them into a web of danger. Now only daring and blind trust can save them. 


 #historicalromance #western romance #dinosaurbones 

1 comment:

Julie Lence said...

Interesting subject, Gini. I confess, I'm not much on dinosaur bones and haven't been to any of the places here in Colorado. I probably should. This is is so rich in history. Thank you for sharing. And Welcome!!!