“I couldn’t help it. I happen to have been born to do it.

I am sure that I would have been a rotten failure doing anything else.”

~ Ends Of The Earth ~

Monday, March 28, 2011

Arrived In The Mail ~ Protoceratops andrewsi mounts 1925

A little damp stained and frumpled, all the same, I have never seen this postcard before.  Undated, but judging from when the exhibit was opened to the public in 1925, I am guessing it is from about that same time period.

Two mounts of Protoceratops andrewsi with casts of eggs in a re-created nest.  I find it very nice that the two technicians who worked on these skeletal mounts are given credit; Peter C. Kaisen, and Charles J. Lang.  Peter Kaisen was a member of the Central Asiatic Expeditions, and a long time employee of the American Museum of Natural History.
Charles Lang - Technician at AMNH working on a model of Triceratops

Peter Kaisen - Technician, and Barnum Brown's right-hand man on almost every dinosaur hunting expedition during the 'Dinosaur Bone Rush' era at the AMNH

Divided back, printed postcard.  Undated Ca. 1930's

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Hunting Dinosaurs ~ Part 2

 Spring Snow Storm.  Field Season 2010.  Photo by P. J. Currie 

Dinosaur research in North America during the 1930’s - 40’s, was severely hampered, but a few like Edwin Colbert managed to keep on digging.  Colbert’s two autobiographies, A Fossil Hunter’s Notebook, and Digging Into The Past, are a captivating record of his life and the profession between the time of the Wright Brother’s first flight and the modern Laptop computer. His  professional career began
  as the personal assistant of Henry Fairfield Osborn, who knew Charles Darwin, and spans an important period of  paleontological research history, that includes his own startling discoveries in Antarctica. Colbert wrote many books on dinosaurs, but it is the unassuming story of his own life that is the most fascinating.

            Despite these many earlier efforts, the method of reproduction in dinosaurs was poorly understood.  Although dinosaur eggs had been found at least as early as 1923,  evidence of babies was exceedingly rare.  In Digging Dinosaurs, John Horner and James Gorman,  provide an enjoyable personal account of the first major discovery of baby dinosaurs.  

Beginning with a chance discovery of fragments in a rock-shop, Horner and his team searched the  Montana badlands for several years before discovering the source.   The story is one of perseverance, human tragedy, frustration, and in the end, success.  Digging Dinosaurs provides a window into the life of the modern dinosaur hunter, who despite computers, GPS units, and four-wheel drive vehicles, must still endure long months  searching on foot, and more often, on hand and knee. 
            Horner used these remarkable discoveries to advance his own radical notions about dinosaur ecology, and these new ideas caused paleontologists to seriously review old theories.  While many scientists were supportive of Horner’s ideas,  some decidedly not, the discoveries caught the public’s attention around the world.  Ultimately, Digging Dinosaurs shows that dinosaur paleontology is still very much alive, and in a state of constant change as new evidence is found to support or defeat previously held ideas.          
            Dinosaur hunters  like Philip Currie, Dale Russell, and Peter Dodson are still traveling the globe, excavating new specimens, and publishing important  research that  expands our knowledge of the dinosaurs.  At present they are too involved with the task at hand to reflect on their own accomplishments.  We can only encourage their work, and trust that they too will take time to record their lives spent in the shadow of  dinosaurs.

Autobiographical accounts have also been written by dinosaur paleontologists from Europe and Asia, unfortunately many of these works are not yet available in English. Additionally, there are accounts by paleontologists not involved with dinosaur research that are equally worthy of  reading and collecting.

Brown, LilianI Married A Dinosaur.  NY: Dodd, Mead & Company, 1950.

Bring ‘Em Back Petrified.  London: The Adventurer’s Club, 1958

Colbert, Edwin HA Fossil Hunter’s Notebook: My Life with Dinosaurs and other          Friends.  NY: E. P. Dutton, 1980.

Digging Into The Past: An Autobiography.  NY: Dembner Books, 1989.

Grady, WayneThe Dinosaur Project: The Story of the Greatest Dinosaur Expedition      Ever Mounted.  Toronto: Macfarlane Walter & Ross, 1993.

Horner, John RDigging Dinosaurs: The Search that Unraveled the Mystery of Baby     Dinosaurs.  With James Gorman.  NY: Workman Publishing, 1988.

Kielan-Jaworowska, ZofiaHunting For Dinosaurs.  Mass.: MIT Press,            1969.  [Originally published in Poland as: Polowanie na Dinozaury.]

Novacek, Michael JDinosaurs Of The Flaming Cliffs: The Thrilling Account of one of   the Largest Dinosaur Expeditions of the 20th Century by the Expedition Leader.      NY: Doubleday, 1996.

Parkinson, JohnThe Dinosaur In East Africa: An Account of the Giant Reptile Beds of   Tendaguru, Tanganyika Territory.  London: H. F. & G. Witherby, 1930.

Sternberg, Charles HThe Life Of A Fossil Hunter.  NY: Henry Holt & Co., 1909.
            [500 copies privately printed.]

Hunting Dinosaurs  In the Badlands Of  The Red Deer River, Alberta, Canada
            Kansas: World  Company Press, 1917.
            [500 copies privately printed.] 

Letters Home from the Bone Camps.  Annals of a Field Museum Paleontologist.  Argentina and Bolivia, 1926 - 27.  Original Letters and Photos by Robert C. Thorne.  Privately Published.  1995 

Dinosaurios en la Patagonia.  By Rodolfo A. Coria.  Rumbo Sur, Editorial Sudamericana.  
Undated Circa 2003.

Hunting Extinct Animals in the Patagonian Pampas.  By Frederic Brewster Loomis.  
Dodd, Mead and Company.  1913 

Dinosaur Impressions.  Postcards from a Paleontologist.  By Philippe Taquet.  Translated by Kevin Padian.  Cambridge University Press.  1998.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Hunting Dinosaurs ~ Part 1

Excavating an Isolated Hadrosaur Humerus, Dinosaur Provincial Park.  2010 
Photograph courtesy of Dr. Philip Currie, University of Alberta.

“This treasure must be at once deposited where it can
be thoroughly investigated and properly understood.”
            The Pickwick Papers
            Dinosaurs fascinate people of all ages in all countries, and museums displaying  dinosaur skeletons continue to attract large numbers of visitors.  However,  it is not apparent to the casual visitor just how much work is behind these mounted wonders;  the work of finding them, digging them out of the ground, patiently chipping their brittle remains out of solid rock, studying them, publishing research, and finally mounting them in museum galleries where they may be viewed by the studious and curious.  Who does this work? What is their story? 
            The story of  the dinosaurs is closely associated with the story of the men and women who hunt and study dinosaurs, paleontologists, that small segment of society who never lost their childhood  fascination.  Their youthful interest in sharp teeth and blood-letting  gave  way to a matured interest in the dinosaurs as living animals, a part of our biological past.  By studying the rise, world domination, fall, and eventual demise of the dinosaurs, paleontologists not only learn about this single group, but also about their complex interactions with the world they inhabited.  Information gained from these inquiries is  helping us to understand the planet we occupy today, and just maybe how to avoid their same fate.
            The term Dinosauria [terrible lizards] was first published in 1842. Since then dozens of major expeditions, and hundreds of smaller ventures have discovered and excavated dinosaurs from every continent including Antarctica.  Much of what is written by paleontologists is  admittedly dry reading, published in professional journals with precise descriptions of new specimens.  These research papers are essential tools in recording and sharing discoveries, but the necessary jargon involved  limits  casual  reading.  Fortunately, some paleontologists have also applied themselves to writing books that are not just about dinosaurs, but about the people involved, their likes, dislikes, triumphs, failures, travels to exotic locales, and historical events.  These personal stories offer readers not only a valuable perspective on science, but contain fascinating  reading in natural and human history.

Charles H. Sternberg

            Early this century, the pioneer work of two men, Charles H. Sternberg [1850 - 1943, and Barnum Brown [1873 - 1963], began a period of North American dinosaur collecting known as the “Great Dinosaur Rush.”  Now almost impossible to obtain, Sternberg’s privately printed The Life Of A Fossil Hunter, and Hunting Dinosaurs In The Badlands Of The Red Deer River, Alberta, Canada, are the classic early accounts of dinosaur hunting that chronicle not only the development of dinosaur hunting in  North America, but also the opening of the West to settlers. 

            Sternberg began collecting fossils as a youth during the 1860’s, and by 1876 was employed by America’s great vertebrate paleontologist, Edward Drinker Cope.  This was a formative time when dinosaurs were poorly known, methods of excavation were crude, and the U.S. Cavalry was still  fighting  protracted skirmishes with Native Americans.  During his first summer in Montana, Sternberg and his team narrowly avoided an encounter with Sioux warriors who had just defeated Custer at the Battle of the Little Bighorn.

Barnum Brown in Alberta, Canada.

            Working in friendly competition with Sternberg, who in 1912 was working for the Geological Survey of Canada,  Barnum Brown explored the Red Deer River Canyons for the American Museum of Natural History.  Notable among few accounts in Brown’s own words is,  Hunting Big Game Of Other Days, a National Geographic article about his  expeditions into the Badlands of Alberta, Canada.  During a sixty-six year career at the American Museum of Natural History, Barnum Brown excavated more dinosaurs than anyone, worked in almost every area of the globe, traveled on every form of transport except by submarine, but never found time to write his own autobiography. 

            Fortunately, Brown’s industrious life was recorded by his second wife, Lilian Brown.  I Married A Dinosaur,  and Bring ‘Em Back Petrified,  are two witty accounts of her life, including a  honeymoon spent collecting fossils in the Siwalik Hills of Pakistan, with “Dr. Bones”.

American Museum Crew Excavates a Centrosaurus Skeleton in Alberta, Canada. 1915

            North America and Europe were not the only areas being explored for dinosaurs early this century.  Tendaguru is a remarkable deposit located near Lindi, Tanzania, once  part of German East Africa.  First discovered and excavated by German scientists from 1909 - 1913,  it revealed unusual new animals such as the apartment building-sized plant-eater Brachiosaurus.  Mandated to Great Britain after the first world war, expeditions by British scientists, including a convalescing future anthropologist Louis Leakey, continued the discoveries at Tendaguru. 
            The Dinosaur In East Africa,  by John Parkinson also offers interesting reading for those not ordinarily interested in dinosaurs.  Extreme geographic isolation, poisonous snakes, disease bearing insects, predatory leopards, malaria, and primitive living conditions are but a few of many distractions encountered by the British.  
            Even though the Central Asiatic Expeditions opened exciting new fossil fields in Asia, the Depression, and World War II dried up funding for dinosaur hunting,  and it was not until the late 1940’s that excavations began again in earnest, this time led by the Soviet Union.
            Hunting For Dinosaurs, written by the female leader of three Polish expeditions, Zofia Kielan-Jaworowska,  remains the only English language first hand account of Soviet work in Mongolia.  Kielan-Jaworowska describes in  detail the previous work of Russian expeditions, and the success with which her own expeditions discovered important new dinosaurs.
            The expeditions entered areas that no other team had risked before, and were handsomely rewarded with numerous discoveries that contributed substantially to paleontology.  Little had changed in forty years since the Gobi had first yielded dinosaurs, conditions were as  primitive, food  and water were still scarce, and maps were no more accurate.  Hunting For Dinosaurs is also an unintentional record of a Mongolia that no longer exists, a Mongolia before Pepsi, German hunting lodges, and Japanese golf courses.
Rolling Verdant Grasslands of Outer Mongolia.  Photograph by Clive Coy.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Roy Chapman Andrews ~ Video by Mike44920

I found this nicely compiled 5 minute pastiche of Central Asiatic Expedition stills, and original motion film on YouTube.  It was put together with an interesting soundtrack by a user who goes by the mysterious moniker Mike44920.    I like this 'short', and thought I would bring it to the attention of visitors to Whales, Camps and Trails.

It is my understanding that a large portion of the original motion film shot by James Shackelford, the official photographer of the expeditions, was lost due to it being on Nitrate film.  Sadly, this was the fate of many early movies, now lost forever.

Here is an excerpt taken from Wikipedia that more fully explains the problem.

Nitrate film
Nitrocellulose was used as the first flexible film base, beginning with Eastman Kodak products in August, 1889. Camphor is used as a plasticizer for nitrocellulose film, often called nitrate film. It was used until 1933 for X-ray films (where its flammability hazard was most acute) and for motion picture film until 1951. It was replaced by safety film with an acetate base.

The use of nitrocellulose film for motion pictures led to the requirement for fireproof projection rooms with wall coverings made of asbestos. The US Navy shot a training film for projectionists that included footage of a controlled ignition of a reel of nitrate film, which continued to burn when fully submerged in water. Unlike many other flammable materials, nitrocellulose does not need air to keep burning, and once burning it is extremely difficult to extinguish. Immersing burning film in water may not extinguish it, and could actually increase the amount of smoke produced.[4][5] Owing to public safety precautions, the London Underground forbade transport of movies on its system until well past the introduction of safety film.

Cinema fires caused by ignition of nitrocellulose film stock were the cause of the 1926 Dromcolliher cinema tragedy in County Limerick in which 48 people died and the 1929 Glen Cinema Disaster which killed 69 children. Today, nitrate film projection is normally highly regulated and requires extensive precautionary measures including extra projectionist health and safety training. Projectors certified to run nitrate films have many precautions, among them the chambering of the feed and takeup reels in thick metal covers with small slits to allow the film to run through. The projector is modified to accommodate several fire extinguishers with nozzles aimed at the film gate. The extinguishers automatically trigger if a piece of flammable fabric placed near the gate starts to burn. While this triggering would likely damage or destroy a significant portion of the projection components, it would prevent a fire which could cause far greater damage. Projection rooms may be required to have automatic metal covers for the projection windows, preventing the spread of fire to the auditorium.

It was found that nitrocellulose gradually decomposes, releasing nitric acid and further catalyzing the decomposition (eventually into a flammable powder or goo). Decades later, storage at low temperatures was discovered as a means of delaying these reactions indefinitely. It is thought that the great majority of films produced during the early twentieth century were lost either through this accelerating, self-catalyzed disintegration or through studio warehouse fires. Salvaging old films is a major problem for film archivists (see film preservation).

Nitrocellulose film base manufactured by Kodak can be identified by the presence of the word Nitrate in dark letters between the perforations. Acetate film manufactured during the era when nitrate films were still in use was marked Safety or Safety Film between the perforations in dark letters. Film stocks in the non-standard gauges, 8 mm or 16 mm, were not manufactured with a nitrate base on any significant scale in the west, though rumours persist of 16mm nitrate having been produced in the former Soviet Union and/or China.[6]

The volatility of nitrocellulose film was used as a plot device in the 2009 film Inglourious Basterds to start a theater fire during the film's climax.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

How Dodge Put The "Go" In Gobi Part 2

            Despite the ease with which the work in Mongolia began, the expedition had yet to rendezvous with the camel caravan, and establish if resupply by camel was feasible over great distances.
            While Granger continued searching for fossils, Andrews and the rest of the expedition set off on a 400 kilometer journey to the meet the caravan.  Andrews feared that it might be attacked by bandits, or lost in the desert.  To their great relief, the caravan was waiting.  All seventy-five camels with intact supplies had arrived a full hour before the cars.
            Using this leap-frog technique enabled the expedition to cover more than ten-thousand miles during 1922 and 1923, far more than Andrews had originally thought possible.   Overburdened with equipment, specimens, and staff, the Dodge cars had performed heroically, exceeding all previous expectations.
Crossing The Ongin River.            

Once, while returning to China,  Andrews and his passengers discovered that their oil had leaked out of its cans.  It would be impossible to go much further, but as they were debating what to do, they came upon a Mongol encampment.  Knowing that the herdsman would have sheep, and mutton fat, Andrews queried “why not use that for oil!”
            An obliging herdsman soon had a great pot of  mutton fat warming over a fire.  When it was liquefied, “We poured it into the motor and proceeded merrily on our way.”  The Dodge did not notice the change in diet, but there was one serious obstacle to the enjoyment of its passengers.  “We had had very little food for some time and were very hungry...”  As their engine warmed up, “a most tantalizing odor of roast lamb arose from the car!”,  and Andrews imagined he could smell mint sauce.

Showroom Brochure. Dodge Brothers. 1925

            Similarly, the expedition once found itself without cup grease for the cars.  Cold cream and Vaseline that had been prepared for the summer was sacrificed, Mongol cheese was also substituted, apparently with good results.
            By the end of the second field season, the Dodges had given a Herculean performance without any major mechanical problems.  However, it was felt that it would be safer to retire them and purchase new ones for the next field season. 
            The well-traveled Dodges were sold as they stood, to Chinese importers of wool and furs from Mongolia.  Remarkably, they sold for more than they were worth new.  “After all,”  Andrews records the buyers saying, “we know these cars can do the job because they’ve already been there.  Perhaps new ones won’t be as good.”
            Returning to New York to raise additional funds, Andrews barely arrived at the museum before a representative of Dodge Brothers called on him.  Dodge was delighted with the news coverage their cars were receiving, and realized it was priceless advertising.  Dodge Brothers wanted to be a sponsor.
Centerfold of Showroom Brochure.  Dodge Brothers 1925

            “I’ll play ball,”  said Andrews, “if you’ll give us a new fleet of cars, made to our specifications.”  Two years of work had shown where the cars needed changes - all in the body, and none in the motor.  “I need eight new cars,”  Andrews went on, and “[Dodge]  jumped at the suggestion like a trout taking a fly.” 
             Colgate and Andrews went to Detroit to see Fred Haynes, then president of Dodge Brothers.  Haynes’ greeting was “Now gentleman, Dodge Brothers employs twenty thousand men.  You tell us what you want and we’ll build it.”
            Colgate knew exactly what was required.  Seven of the new cars were to be an open express body with eight-inch sides of heavy screen wire.  Springs, both front and rear, were made heavier than commercial cars.  In addition, on each rear spring, inside, were iron bumpers lined with pieces of heavy tire, to give a heavily loaded car additional support, and leather snubbers were installed to prevent wild rebounds. 
            Gasoline tanks were increased to twenty-one gallons, four strong hooks were bolted onto the chassis member to aid pulling out of mud and sand, and each car was given two complete spare wheels, mounted either side of the driver’s seat. 
            The eighth vehicle was an ordinary five-passenger touring body.  This lightest member of the fleet would be used during advance reconnaissance.
            The Gobi savaged ordinary tires, but Dodge provided the relatively new 33 X 4.5 Royal Cord.  Balloon-type tires had not proven practical.  Although they held a car up better in sand, they increased fuel consumption, and were easily cut by stones.
            Dodge’s support saved the expedition about fifty thousand dollars.  In return, Dodge Brothers used images of the expedition vehicles, with quotes from Andrews, in advertising brochures, calendars, and magazine ads.  Andrews later speculated that the expedition’s endorsement sold thousands of cars for Dodge.      
Sales Brochure April 1937

            Equipped with the new fleet of Dodge Brothers cars, the expedition worked in the Gobi during 1925, 1928, and 1930, and continued to make major scientific findings that established Asia as an important dispersal centre of animal life. 
            They uncovered 20,000 - year old stone tools, evidence that the Gobi had been inhabited by people who may have migrated to North America.  Their geological findings confirmed that Outer Mongolia had never been glaciated and was the oldest area on earth of continuously dry land.  
Expedition Vehicles at Headquarters, Peking [Beijing] 1928

            The most spectacular discovery, for which Andrews and the expeditions became world-famous, was of three nests containing two dozen dinosaur eggs, the first recorded by science.  The nine-inch-long eggs were nearly perfectly preserved. 
            During the late twenties, Asia grew restless, and field work in the Gobi became dangerous.  Civil war, banditry, and the actions of  Imperial Japan in China made exploration after 1930 impossible. 
            Roy Chapman Andrews never returned to the Gobi Desert, but did continue his relationship with Dodge after it was sold to Walter Chrysler.  He remained a popular and widely recognized spokesman into the late 1930’s.
National Geographic.  March 1936

            Dodge’s positive experience with the Central Asiatic Expeditions began an era of similar sponsorships.  In the 1930's Chrysler Corporation sponsored expeditions by other explorers such as Armand Denis and Lisa Roosevelt.  Their "Wheels Across Africa" , and "East of  Bombay” documentaries showcase Dodge Power Wagons and Sedans prevailing over impossible terrain, and demonstrated that Dodge’s were “Reliable, Dependable, Sound” as ever.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

How Dodge Put The "Go" In Gobi. Part 1

Convoy of Expedition Vehicles.  Folding Panorama from 'New Conquest of Central Asia'.

“ The Dodge Bros. cars climbed like mountain goats, and later, in our enthusiasm, Colgate and I agreed that we should be willing to attempt the ascent of Mount Everest with them if the snow could be eliminated.”
 - Roy Chapman Andrews, 1926 -

            Never before had the Dodge Brothers’ motto - “Reliable, Dependable, Sound” - been so vigorously challenged.  Despite critics who said they might as well search the bottom of the ocean, an intrepid group of scientists gambled their lives, and a fortune to explore one of the Earth’s last unmapped regions - the Gobi Desert  - using Dodges. 
            Conceived and led by explorer Roy Chapman Andrews and sponsored by the American Museum of Natural History, the Central Asiatic Expeditions [C.A.E.] consisted of five separate thrusts into remote Outer Mongolia and Northern China between 1922 and 1930.
            The C.A.E.  heralded a new type of multidisciplinary exploration, with  representatives from eight fields of investigation that included geology, palaeontology, and archaeology.
            With  funds from financial giants like John D. Rockefeller, and public lectures, Andrews raised more than $300,000 U.S. [equivalent to twenty times that today], an enormous expenditure for a scientific expedition even during the heady 1920’s.
            Mongolia, which occupies an area larger than Great Britain, France, Germany and Italy combined, is still a difficult country to explore.  Poorly maintained  dangerously-pot-holed asphalt roads run for a few hundred kilometers east and west of the capital.  Communities outside this paved-zone are serviced by rugged trails that meander over steep mountain valleys, lush unfenced grasslands, and arid deserts.
            In 1918 when Andrews first visited Mongolia, there were a few motor cars running infrequently between China and the old capital of Mongolia, Urga.  The ancient caravan route was difficult, and the Ford motor cars that were used had proved unable to meet the severe demands made upon them.  Accidents were frequent and many people had been killed.
            However two Dodge Brothers cars had made it through in 1916.  This achievement gave Andrews the inspiration for conducting explorations of Mongolia using automobiles.  He was convinced that a properly equipped motor expedition supported by a camel caravan could do ten years’ work in five months.  Scientists in motor cars would conduct the actual exploration, while a caravan of camels sent out months in advance would transport food, gasoline and oil to prearranged locations. 

Expedition camel and Vehicle Tyres at Flaming Cliff Camp.  

            Returning to New York, Andrews began looking for a light car with high clearance, great durability, flexible chassis,  and an engine with sufficient power to pull through sand.
            “When it came to choice of cars opinion was strongly in favor of several well known Italian and French makes,” wrote Andrews, although he personally had a poor opinion of  Citro├źn all-terrain vehicles. Asked to adopt it for the expedition,  Andrews found the car to be absolutely impractical for rough work.  “It is a nice little French Toy,”  wrote Andrews to a friend.

Fulton 1 ton truck, used in early years of the Expedition.  Photographed at the American Museum prior to shipment to China.  Ca. 1920

Dodge had an advantage - it had already proven itself capable of the arduous journey to Mongolia.  Additionally, a Dodge had climbed the Twin Peaks of San Francisco higher than any other car, and was the first automobile to reach the floor of the Grand Canyon and climb back out under its own power. 
            After careful investigation, and despite Dodge’s  polite refusal to donate vehicles, Andrews chose five Dodge Brothers’ cars: medium priced, no frills workhorses that were plain looking, utilitarian and rugged. “Those which we used were stock cars with no especial equipment.”
            These vehicles were expected to operate under extremely harsh conditions including: freezing nights, and + 40° C. days, and choking sand storms.  Every imaginable situation was contemplated.  Eventually, Andrews noted, “We carried hundreds of nuts and bolts, almost every conceivable part and the very best tools...short of actual wrecking of the chassis or engine, we were prepared for any emergencies.”
            “Motoring on the Gobi is not quite like rolling down Fifth Avenue.  If anything happens to your car there are no garages around the corner....to be alone on the desert when something is wrong with the digestion of your automobile can have its serious aspects.”
            As scientists were expected to be conducting research, not tinkering with  engines, Andrews hired Bayard Colgate.  A motor enthusiast since his youth, Colgate, already an accomplished mechanic, underwent further intensive training at the Dodge factory in Detroit before sailing for China.
            Andrews purchased new Dodges in Peking at the regular price, but was unable to secure insurance.  Despite arguing, “the moral risk was good because we certainly would not abandon a machine...in view of the fact that the success of the expedition, if not our actual lives, depended upon [them],” Andrews was refused coverage.  The insurers said the risk was too great, he was lucky to have a supporting caravan for he would be returning on camels, if he ever returned at all.
            Despite this opinion, in March of 1922,  five weeks ahead of the scientists in their cars, a caravan of seventy-five camels was sent out across the border of China into Mongolia.   They were instructed to drop twelve cases of gasoline at a telegraph station along the road to Urga, and then rendezvous with the automobiles 150 miles from Urga. The success or failure of  Andrews’ novel plan rested on the caravan’s ability to cross the Gobi Desert.
Pushing Expedition vehicles through sand.

            Thirty-five days later, the scientists and overloaded Dodges slowly climbed westward toward the Great Wall, passed through a stone gate, and rolled into Mongolia. 
            “It makes me shudder even to write about the places through which we took the cars and trucks during the next four hours” recalled Andrews, “There were ravines, ditches, walls, rocks and washouts.  Only Colgates’s good driving and resourcefulness got us through without a disastrous smash.”
            That day’s progress was excellent, until a rain storm caused the ground to become thick clinging gumbo.  The lead car suddenly sank up to the running boards in mud, followed by each of the cars in turn.  They were so badly stuck that they could only be retrieved with block and tackle.
            Four days later the expedition reached the first supply drop at the telegraph station.  The caravan had been there two weeks before, leaving cans of gasoline as planned.
            After pitching camp near the telegraph station, palaeontologist Walter Granger set off to explore the surrounding hills, but was soon back in camp.  “Well, Roy,” Granger burst out, “we’ve done it.  The stuff is here.  We picked up fifty pounds of [fossil] bones in an hour.”  The expedition members were jubilant.           

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

"Explore with Roy"

BELOIT, Wis. – Congratulations to Robert Hackbarth of Janesville, Wisconsin!  Mr. Hackbarth participated in the “Explore with Roy” Identity Design Contest submitting artwork which will be used in Beloit’s new branding and tourism campaign.  Mr. Hackbarth will receive a cash prize and his selected Beloit area non-profit Friends of RiverFront will receive a matching gift.  Mr. Hackbarth’s winning design represents Beloit’s most famous native son—explorer and anthropologist Roy Chapman Andrews.  Andrews, who remains a historical figure in the city, attended Beloit College and traveled the world as an archeologist.  
Throughout 2011, Beloit will be home to a series of activities incorporating Roy Chapman Andrews’ sense of adventure, daring, and passion for bringing history to life. “Explore with Roy” activities will include a Classic Car Rally;  a Kick-off Event featuring Indiana Jones Movies; Geo-Caching/Scavenger Hunt; an Historic Walking Tour; and a Mural Painting Project; a kayaking event; a bicycling event; and a Fishing Derby; . Mr. Hackbarth’s design provides a recognizable visual identity for the series and will be featured on print materials, T-shirts and electronic advertising.