The Agate Fossil Beds are located
in Harrison, Nebraska. The two mountainous structures stand tall along the
Nebraska plains. The two hilltops store something valuable to our nations
history. The Agate Fossil beds contain fossils that date back to twenty million
years ago. The time when these animals lived was called the Miocene Era. The
animals that once roamed the area were the Dinohyus, a giant pig-like animal, a
Menoceras a short rhinoceros and many more fossils remain.
The man that discovered this area
was a man named, James Cook. He was a rancher in the west and drove cattle.
Cook met some interesting people along his cattle drives. He met Professor O.C.
Marsh a dry paleontologist and Native American, Red Cloud. They would become
life long friends. Cooks first stumbled across the Agate Fossils while riding
with his sweetheart. Cook bought the property and renamed the area Agate
Springs Ranch. The couple became married and had two sons, Harold and John
Harold Cook the Cook’s first son, took
an interest in paleontology. Harold became a well-educated man going to several
universities around the United States. In 1892 Harold helped Erwin H. Barbour remove
a large part of the Agate Beds. This helped his career as a paleontologist.
Unfortunately, Harold had to quit school to help his family keep the family
ranch. Later on in his life Harold was
appointed to the Nebraska State Park Board and served many years.
1990’s the National Park Service constructed a visitor center for tourists
while visiting the National Monument. The center contains hundreds of Native
American artifacts. The Cook family had collected them from his friend Red
Cloud and wanted them to stay on the property. The center has a great picture
timeline to understand the full history of the discovery of the Agate Fossil
Beds. If one wants to see fossils and ancient Native American artifacts, check
out Agate Fossil Beds National Monument.