We went to the Clarno unit of the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument as the second stop on our day tour from Culver on September 18th.
The Monument was established in 1975 to preserve a selection of three fossil bed areas in the John Day Basin. The John Day Basin was first recognized as an important source of fossil specimens in the late 1860s during the formative period of paleontology.
The Clarno Fossil Beds are located in the cliffs of the Clarno Palisades near the John Day River. The fossils were formed when volcanic ash and mudflows inundated a forested landscape.
The fossil specimens visible to the public are located in a rock field below the cliffs. The Oregon Museum of Science and Industry operates the Hancock Field Station inside the Clarno unit with several programs offered for those interested in geology, paleontology and ecology of central Oregon.
There are other fossil sites not yet open to the public. More than 300 plant species and an unusual ancient animal have been found in the beds.
Our third stop was the town of Fossil.
The Fossil Post Office was established in 1876 and the name was chosen by the first postmaster who had found fossils on his ranch.
The city was incorporated in 1891 and became the county seat when Wheeler County was created in 1899. The population was 469 at the 2000 census.
We had planned to visit the Painted Hills unit as the last stop on our day tour. But it was already late afternoon when we arrived at the side road that would take us into the Painted Hills. We realized that we wouldn’t be able to see all the sites in the unit with the time available and that it would still take several hours to get back to Culver.
So we decided to defer our visit until after we moved to John Day from Culver. John Day is located about 50 miles east of the Painted Hills that are in badlands along the John Day River.
We visited the Painted Hills on September 20th. The name “Painted Hills” describes the area well. The Painted Hills pictures are included with this entry.