Completion of revitalized visitor center allows guests at Big Bone Lick to better understand parks history

09/08/2017 12:56 PM

UNION – Visitors to Big Bone Lick State Historic Site will have a better understanding of the significance and history of the location now that a 4-year $210,000 revitalization of the visitor’s center is now complete.

Big Bone Lick has been designated the birthplace of American vertebrate paleontology.

Huge ice mammals such as the American Mastodon and Harlan’s Ground Sloth once traveled there from miles around to lick the mineral rich, soft and marshy soil near the sulphur springs causing many of the animals to become stuck with no way to escape.

Today, these animals are extinct and scientists and historians have long recognized the importance of the location, but a lack of money and a suitable facility have prevented the effective display of the large fossil bones that gave the park its name, thus leaving visitors with a murky understanding of the park’s history and significance until now.

The project was funded by grants and public donations spearheaded by the Friends of Big Bone organization.

Friends of Big Bone President Pat Fox says the upgrades, which include a diorama and a skeletal reconstruction were completed in three different phases.

“The R.C. Durr Foundation funded us up front $70,000 for the thematic cases, and they would match dollar for dollar the amount of money that we would make,” Fox said. “The first phase was the thematic cases, the second phase was the bison, and then the crowning piece was put into place, the Harlan’s Ground Sloth, and it’s significant because this was the place the Harlan’s ground Sloth’s bones were first discovered.”

Dr. Glenn Storrs, head of vertebrate paleontology at the Cincinnati Museum Center was a consultant on the project and helped organize the displays hopes that the finished center will provide an educational experience for visitors and help them gain a better understanding of the locations significance.

“I wanted to see people come to the park, understand the importance of the scientific history and the history of our country, all of those things are wrapped up here,” Storrs said. “The origins of paleontology, the origin of archeology, all really get their start here at Big Bone Lick and I wanted people of our local community to appreciate that.”

Big Bone Lick State Historic Site was established as a state park in 1960.

It is on the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail and has been a designated National Nature Landmark since 2009.

Today, the park encompasses just over 800 acres and includes a campground and about 5 miles of trails.

Don Weber

Don Weber is a Video Journalist for Spectrum News and covers politics and education on Pure Politics, Kentucky’s only nightly program dedicated to state politics. Don is a lifelong Kentuckian and a graduate of Northern Kentucky University. He spent many years covering sports in the Northern Kentucky area before shifting primarily to politics. You can watch Don’s work weeknights at 7:00 and 11:30 on Pure Politics, available exclusively on Spectrum News, HD Channels 403 and 715. If you have a story idea you can reach Don at donald.weber@charter.com.

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