Select Page
We in Fremont County are so fortunate to have world-class geology and paleontology in our back yard. 'Tis holiday season, and we wanted to brighten up an empty store front downtown with some cheer. Beth and Colby Katchmar kindly offered us the former RSVP window at 513 Main St. Our three displays showcasing Fremont County fossils: Indian Springs Fossil Site (Ordovician - 450 mya), Tepee Buttes (Cretaceous - 75 mya), and Fremont County Community display case (Jurassic - 150 mya, and Cretaceous 75 mya).  Note: The displays are easier to read after dark and mya means millions of years ago! Indian Springs: Carly Thorson has a knack for explaining marks on rocks that brings them back to life. Without her explanation, they are just red rocks, but with her explanation, those marks become a fish that only moved to the right, a sea scorpion whose stinger once pressed right here, a trilobite whose trip abruptly ended when Arachnomorphichnus Thorsoni lunched on him. Carly can read the rocks from her family ranch like the back of her own hand, and suddenly those red rocks speak volumes about the interaction of many species that lived 450 million years ago, and this is what is unique and so very interesting about Indian Springs to paleontologists the world over.
Indian Springs Exhibit

Indian Springs Exhibit

Carly has been at her post at the BLM office for the past two weeks, entertaining and educating many interested folks in the Harding Sandstone trace fossils (footprints) found just east of Cañon City. Occasionally it was standing room only.
Many folks stopped by the Royal Gorge BLM office to listen to Carly Thorson explain the fossil footprints found on her family ranch at Indian Springs.

Many folks stopped by the Royal Gorge BLM office to listen to Carly Thorson explain the fossil footprints found on her family ranch at Indian Springs.

Tepee Buttes: These are the well known cone-shaped geological structures we see east of I-25 at Pueblo, Boone, and in Huerfano County, and here in Fremont County we also have less well-known Tepee Buttes on private land that produce the same invertebrate fossils: baculites, ammonites, clams, and gastropods (snails). One lucky fellow recently found a rare echinoid (we believe it is either a sea urchin or a sand dollar) there.
Former seafloor methane vents attracted invertebrates which can be found as fossils today around tepee buttes cones in Fremont County.

Former seafloor methane vents attracted invertebrates which can be found as fossils today around tepee buttes cones in Fremont County.

A poster depicting eight specimens that can be found at Tepee Buttes is cross-referenced with actual specimens found by Frank Lovato. This type of dedication to research and understanding helps the rest of us appreciate these incredible living creatures-turned-into-rocks, and may spur some of you with like fossils in your back yard to look at them in new light. Loretta Bailey has a stupendous rugose coral that looks like a big carrot, and a couple of concretions that could actually be fossils. Loretta's hand drawings of the anatomy of an ammonite and a baculite help us understand the internal structure of these iconic fossils. Her research carefully printed on recipe cards illustrates the extent of her study into Spud Hill (aka Mount Pleasant and Potato Rock).
Tepee Butte - Spud Hill specimens

Tepee Butte - Spud Hill specimens

The Tepee Buttes display case is chock full of specimens and information about these strange cores formed by the precipitation of carbonate around methane seeping from vents on the seafloor some 75 mya. For some bizarre reason, many invertebrates found methane to their liking, so they congregated around these cores, creating a rich fossil environment for us to study today. Fremont County Community: A magnificent palm frond fossil from Chandler and a stunning piece of petrified wood set off many other Fremont County fossils, including a huge shark tooth, an amazingly intact trilobite (looks like a modern beetle), leaf and skin impressions. Two dinosaur vertebrae and a gastrolith (stomach stone) collected from private property take us back to Jurassic time.
Community specimens

Community specimens

Our hope, through these displays, is to engender appreciation for all we have, to enhance education of all of us in the wonderful world of our landscape, and to promote legal collection and preservation of our resources.
Fremont County back yards are richly packed with well-preserved fossils such as clams, ammonites, baculites, and plant fossils.

Fremont County back yards are richly packed with well-preserved fossils such as clams, ammonites, baculites, and plant fossils.

You may have a garden full of rocks that struck you as intriguing when you first saw them, or maybe you have rocks or fossils you would like to have identified, or perhaps you have minerals or fossils that you've collected and would be willing to put on display. We welcome your specimens, and would like to have more 'community displays'. If you would share your collection with us or if you have a location for a display, please contact me at cindysmithrocks@me.com or 719-275-9781. We thank Loretta Bailey, Gordon Bell, Mary Chamberlain, Bill Coyle, and Frank Lovato for sharing their fossil collections with us. These display cases are sponsored by Fremont County Stones 'n Bones, the Cañon City Geology Club, Home Town Real Estate, Sonny and Nancy Smaller, and BLM. We will be placing more display cases around the Cañon City, Florence and Penrose areas in 2014. May your holiday season rock!