A Tale of Two Tourist Traps: the Creation of Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument in Colorado

The Text Message

Today’s post was written by Cody White, Archivist at the National Archives at Denver

“We can’t get too much science so am for the park.” And so opened a 1962 letter to the National Park Service from Orson Rice, an Ohio resident who owned a parcel of land near the proposed Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument in central Colorado. Finally established in 1969, the fossil beds that make up the monument were created roughly 34 million years ago when nearby volcanoes erupted and the ensuing ash fall worked to preserve an enormous variety of insects, arachnids, algae, leaves, and even whole trees in what was then a large fresh water lake. Our story starts much later however, in roughly 1952 as documented in the National Park Service (NPS) records held at the National Archives at Denver.

Throughout the history of the NPS there have been many proposals for protected sites…

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