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Utah's early settlers on display in Price.

JUST ABOUT EVERY Western town can boast of a history museum filled with spinning wheels, handcranked phones, and other local artifacts of the past century or so. Price, Utah, can make a more unusual claim. The ages of many of the exhibits in its College of Eastern Utah Prehistoric Museum are measured not in decades but in eras spanning millions of years.

The newly renovated museum contaoins a remarkable wealth of archeological and paleontological treasures, ranging from dinosaur skeletons to Fremont Indian pottery, that were found in nearby canyons, quarries, and coal mines. It's a worthwhile stop for travelers en route from Salt Lake City to the national parks of southeastern Utah.

A GIANT SANDBOX FOR

GIANT LIZARDS

The centerpiece of the museum's Hall of Dinaosaurs is a large oval sandbox filled with standing and reclining skeletons of dinosaurs known as Allosaurus, Camarasaurus, Camptosaurus, and Stegosaurus. In contrast to the cast replicas found in most museums, all but one are real fossils, all but one are real fossils, unearthed at the Cleveland-Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry about 30 miles south of Price (the Comptosaurus was cast from a skeleton found in the quarry). The quarry has yielded more Jurassic era (200 to 140 million years ago) dinosaur skeletons than any other in the world.

Mounted on a wall of the upstairs gallery is a duckbilled Prosaurolophus. Underneath it march truly monstrous footprints that were left by dinosaurs in a local coal mine.

Paleontologists are continuing to make significant finds in the Price area. Through a laboratory window, you can see parts of two recently discovered skeletons being extricated from their rock matrix--a small armored Nodosaurus and a Camarasaurus quite a big larger than the one lying in the sand pit. Or better yet, ask about volunteering to take part in museum-sponsored digs.

A WING FOR MAN

AND MAMMOTH

A creature of a much later vintage than dinosaurs will soon greet visitors to the Hall of Man: preparators are currently casting a replica mammoth skeleton that will stand at the front of the hall devoted to the mammoth's biped contemporaries. For now, visitors can watch a video that describes the surprising discovery of al almost intact mammoth skeleton during the construction of a dam in nearby Huntingtong Canyon.

The oldest known inhabitants of this region belonged to the Desert Archaic culture, which lasted until about A.D. 500. They are represented in a 12-by 22-foot mural that replicates the ghostly figures they painted on a wall of Horseshoe Canyon (which is now part of Canyonlands National Park).

One of the museum's most prized possessions is a collection of 10 unbaked clay figurines created by a member of the Fremont culture, which inhabited Utah from about 500 to 1300. The pieces, named the Pilling Figurines after the Price rancher who discovered them in a cave, are considered the finest of their type ever found. A diorama of a woman grinding corn outside a fremont pit house offers a glimpse into the way of life of these Indian people.

Another diorama of an Indian family in a tepee recreates the traditional but more recent lifestyle of the Ute Tribe. Decorated buffalo robes and baskets, each hundreds of years old, are among the other Ute artifacts displayed at the museum.

GALLERY, GIFT SHOP;

DIRECTIONS, HOURS

Poster-size photographs of ancient rock art, taken by the late Gary Smith, now reside permanently in the museum's new art gallery, which also hosts traveling exhibits. A gift shop sells books and other items related to paleontology and archeology.

Price is 119 miles southeast of Salt Lake City. From U.S. 6, take the Price exit to Main Street and turn north on 200 East; the museum is on the left. Hours are 10 to 5; donations are accepted.
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Copyright 1991 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:College of Eastern Utah Prehistoric Museum
Publication:Sunset
Date:Nov 1, 1991
Words:628
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