On September 9, we visited Florissant Fossil Bed National Monument and Cripple Creek.
Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument is located in Florissant Valley, a high mountain valley west of Pikes Peak. The valley, fossil beds and national monument take their name from the nearby town of Florissant, Colorado.
In 1893, when the photograph on the right was taken, tourists had ready access to shale fossils and petrified wood.
“Early accounts describe the valley as being littered with petrified wood. As word spread, the Florissant area became a popular tourist destination. Exploitation, constant collecting, and thoughtless destruction continued for nearly 100 years. There is no way to assess the damage done or the loss of rare scientific evidence during this period.” 1
Our visit to the park included the small visitor center, the Petrified Forest Trail, and the Hornbek Homestead.
“Adeline Hornbek was not a typical homesteader. In the 1980s, after the loss of two husbands and two homes, this single mother of four moved her family to the Florissant Valley. At a time when women had few opportunities to own property, she filed a claim to homestead 160 acres here. Within seven years, Adeline had built a sizable house and nine outbuildings, and had acquired $4,000 worth of livestock. On top of the daily work of homestead chores and raising children, she added a job at the general store in Florissant.”1
Information and Resources:
- National Park Service
- University of California Museum of Paleontology
- Proctor Museum of Natural Science
1 from a park interpretive sign