Getting to Know Local Dinosaur Sites: The Cleveland-Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry

One of the biggest complaints I hear from people is that they love dinosaurs but do not know where to go to see them. So I decided that this would be a good thing to tackle, in article form! This is the first in a new series that will highlight local Utah dinosaur sites that you can go and visit!

The first on I would like to talk about is the Cleveland Lloyd Quarry. I was able to get in contact with Mike Leschin, he works for the BLM (Bureau of Land Management) and is in charge of the daily operations at the site. He was kind enough to answer a few questions for us regarding the Quarry.

Jurassic Files: So can tell us a little bit about the Quarry?

Mike Leschin: “As you know it is the densest concentration of Jurassic dinosaur bones ever found. It is a layer about 3 feet thick. We have a couple Butler buildings set up over the exposed portion of the bonebed. One of those has doors open when the site is open so that people can go inside and see real bone still in the ground. We have a visitor center containing a couple dozen exhibits focusing on the quarry, paleontology in general and other relevant topics. We have a couple glass cases with replica skulls of animals that left their bones at CLDQ. And of course, we have a replica skeleton of an adult Allosaur. We have a picnic area which unfortunately, only has a half of a table with shade at lunchtime. And a small trail system rounds out our attractions. Three hiking trails totally about 5 miles; one trail has an interpretive brochure that goes with it.”.

JF: Could you give us a little history of the park?

ML: “The early records of excavations at Cleveland-Lloyd are pretty spotty. University of Utah was the first scientific outfit to work there sometime in the late 1920s. They did not find the site but were led there by someone. They didn’t record who so we don’t know. We assume it was some cowboy or sheepherder who had stumbled across the deposit while looking for his cows or sheep. The topography of the site is such that it seems a gully was cutting into the bonebed and given the incredible concentration of bones, it is not a question of “how did you find it?” but rather “what took you so long?” Princeton University had a crew led by William Stokes out there the summers of 1939, 1940, and 1941. That last summer, a Princeton alum named Malcolm Lloyd donated $10,000 to the effort. Stokes, who later became head of the geology dept. at the U of U, wanted his hometown of Cleveland, UT honored, came up with the name Cleveland-Lloyd as a way to honor both. He also instituted the Cooperative Dinosaur Dig in 1960 in order to obtain a research collection of dinosaur bones for the U. That effort continued through the 1964 season. In 1965 the National Park Service nominated the site for National Natural Landmark status, a new program back then. In 1966, the BLM accepted that status. Using a local Job Corps crew, the BLM built a visitor center there that was dedicated in 1968. It was the first visitor center the BLM ever had. Excavations by various schools and entities took place over the next 40 years or so with the University of Wisconsin/Oshkosh acquiring the permit in 2012. They have had a crew out every year since and will probably continue doing so for the foreseeable future. In 2006 the BLM invested almost a million dollars in renovating the visitor center and quarry buildings.”

JF: So why dinosaurs? What about them attracts people to the park?

ML: “Why dinosaurs? Why not?! CLDQ does have some museum quality exhibits but the real attraction is the bonebed itself. People can visit and see actual dinosaur bones still in the ground.”

JF: What are some of the most common questions you get?

ML: “The most common questions concern what happened? How did they all get here? Why so many carnivores? We don’t have answers yet but the Wisconsin folks are still working on it.”

JF: Do you have a paleontology lab on site? If so what kind of work are they doing? If not where do you have your specimens prepared?

ML: ” We do not have a fossil prep lab on site. Currently, UW/O takes fossils back to Wisconsin to work on. A team from the Indiana University of Pennsylvannia has been partnering with the Wisconsin folks so some fossils also go there for prepping.”

The Cleveland Lloyd Quarry is located about 30 mile south of Price, Utah. The quarry is open weekends; Thursday, Friday, and Saturday (weather permitting) from early in March until Memorial Day, and daily from Memorial Day through Labor Day weekend. The schedule goes back to weekends-only for September and October. Hours are from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m except on Sundays when open hours are noon to 5 p.m. For additional information, call the BLM office in Price, Utah at (435) 636-3600. I have yet to personally go to this site but I am now more excited than ever to do so!

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