An Overconfident Start

in The Second Jurassic Dinosaur Rush

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print July 2010 | ISBN: 9780226074726
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226074733 | DOI:
An Overconfident Start

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The Carnegie Museum party suffered from an inauspicious start to the 1899 field season. Jacob L. Wortman, their leader, arrived in Wyoming with almost boundless optimism. While he was still in Medicine Bow laying in supplies, the local postmaster informed him that his colleague, William Harlow Reed, who had been fossil hunting in the Freezeout Mountains and along Sheep Creek, had already “succeeded in locating some very promising prospects.” Without yet having turned a single spade of earth, Wortman wrote to William Jacob Holland, confidently predicting that a railroad carload of fossil bones would be ready for shipment at a “comparatively early” date. But the tenor of his reports changed dramatically with his next installment, on June 28, 1899. First, Wortman had some very bad news for Holland about their various prospects, every one of which had failed with “astonishing regularity.” Each prospect in succession yielded only a few bones and then played out completely within a few feet. Wortman was growing increasingly frustrated. To make matters worse, he had similarly bad news about Holland's coveted prize. Wortman had taken the trouble to investigate Reed's initial find, the one that caught Carnegie's eye, and it was a total bust.

Keywords: Carnegie Museum; fossils; Jacob L. Wortman; Freezeout Mountains; William Jacob Holland; William Harlow Reed

Chapter.  7764 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of Science and Technology

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