Oregon
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John Day Fossil Beds State Park '' © Michael Skourtes
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Oregon
Oregon
Central & Eastern Region
Central & Eastern Region
John Day Fossil Beds State Park
John Day Fossil Beds State Park
JOHN DAY FOSSIL BEDS STATE PARK
JOHN DAY FOSSIL BEDS STATE PARK
John Day Fossil Beds State Park
© Oregon Foto LLC www.oregonfoto.com

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John Day Fossil Beds State Park
© Oregon Foto LLC www.oregonfoto.com

website

John Day Fossil Beds State Park
'John Day Fossil Beds'
© Oregon Foto, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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John Day, a Virginian, came to Oregon in 1812 with the Overland Expedition of the Pacific Fur Company (Astorians). John Day traveled primarily in Northern Oregon, and a river was named for him due to an incident near the mouth (along the Columbia River), where John Day was robbed by American Indians.

Other pioneers and settlers came to farm, to mine and to cut timber. Today, cattle ranching, farming, lumbering, and tourism sustain the economy of this out-of-the-way, uncrowded region.

One early settler was Reverend Thomas Condon. While in Oregon, Reverend Condon met Capt. John Drake's cavalry troop returning to The Dalles from the Crooked River country. Condon, a Congregational minister and avid naturalist, was the first to recognize the importance of the fossilized teeth and bones that the cavalry had picked up along the way.

The year was 1861. The nation was divided -- so was the world. A firestorm of controversy was gaining momentum even as the contest between North and South raged. The controversy centered on a book published in 1859 by a British biologist. His name was Charles Darwin. Darwin's theory, that new species of plants and animals arise from old in an ever-changing, evolving world, was being argued in halls of learning worldwide. But neither side could prove its case without evidence -- fossil evidence.

Gold was struck in Canyon City at the head of the John Day Valley in 1862. Military patrols were stepped up to guard ore shipments. Joining Army escorts to the Canyon City gold fields, Condon searched the John Day Valley for riches of another sort. Oregon gold for the Union might decide the war. Oregon fossils for science might decide the evolution controversy. Daring the passage through Picture Gorge in 1864, Condon discovered a lost world of eroded gullies and pinnacles. Here was the wealth of fossils he was seeking. Condon named the valley "Turtle Cove" for the many fossilized tortoise shells he found. But it was bone, not shell, that first caught the interest of Othniel C. Marsh.


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USA Parks
USA Parks
Oregon
Oregon
Central & Eastern Region
Central & Eastern Region
John Day Fossil Beds State Park
John Day Fossil Beds State Park