Oakley in Logan County, Kansas — The American Midwest (Upper Plains)
The Monument Rocks
One of the Eight Wonders of Kansas
Over 100 million years ago, during the cretaceous era, Kansas was covered by a vast ocean. Dramatic natural features, such as the Monument Rocks, are remains of that ancient seabed.
Since the 1870s, fossil hunters have searched the chalk beds and limestone hillsides of the Smoky Hill River region for the remains of ancient creatures. They have made some of the most significant discoveries in North American paleontology. Among the most astonishing finds were flying reptiles with a 30-foot wingspan known as pteranodons. They surprised scientists because, unlike other flying reptiles, their beaks and hollow bones seemed to make them the ancestors of birds.
A Real Life Jurasic [sic] Park
The first scientific explorers in Kansas were looking for dinosaurs! Paleontologists and bone hunters competed with each other to discover new types of fossils. The competition between two of them -- Professor Edwin D. Cope (1840-1897) of Harvard, and Professor Othniel C. Marsh (1831-1899) of Yale -- was so fierce that their rivalry in the 1870s and 1880s was called "the Bone Wars."
The army often provided escorts for the scientists. Buffalo Bill once guided Othniel Marsh on an expedition through western Nebraska. Like other frontiersmen, Cody even made extra money by finding fossils and shipping them to museums back east!
Many of the greatest discoveries were made in western Kansas by Charles H. Sternberg (1850-1943). He and his sons George (1883-1969), Charles M. (1885-1981), and Levi (1894-1976) were the first to find and identify several species of cretaceous life. Fossils excavated by the Sternbergs are part of major museum collections throughout the United States and Europe, including the Fick Fossil & History Museum in Oakley and the Sternberg Museum at Hays. Approximately 20 miles south of Oakley, near the Smoky Hill River, please visit the Monument Rocks and see local fossil remains at the Keystone Gallery.
Erected by Wild West Historical Foundation and the Kansas Humanities Council.
Location. 39° 7.611′ N, 100° 52.156′ W. Marker is in Oakley, Kansas, in Logan County. Marker is at the intersection of U.S. 83 and 2nd Street, on the left when traveling north on U.S. 83. Touch for map. Marker is in the kiosk adjacent to the Buffalo Bill Cultural Center. Marker is at or near this postal address: 3083 US Hwy 83, Oakley KS 67748, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Early Exploration across Kansas (here, next to this marker); The Smoky Hill River Valley - Buffalo Country (here, next to this marker); Inhabitants of the Kansas Plains (here, next to this marker); Annie Oakley (here, next to this marker); Oakley: Birthplace of the Legend (here, next to this marker); The Great Buffalo Hunt (here, next to this marker); Buffalo Bill Cultural Center (within shouting distance of this marker); Logan County Sandstone (approx. 0.4 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Oakley.
Also see . . .
1. Monument Rocks, Kansas. (Submitted on June 17, 2013, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
2. Monument Rocks and Castle Rock: An Eight Wonder of Kansas Geography. (Submitted on June 17, 2013, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
3. Monument Rocks / Chalk Pyramids. (Submitted on June 17, 2013, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
4. Fick Fossil Museum, Oakley, Kansas. (Submitted on June 17, 2013, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
5. Sternberg Museum of Natural History, Hays KS. (Submitted on June 17, 2013, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
Categories. • Exploration • Paleontology •
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on June 17, 2013, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania. This page has been viewed 333 times since then and 43 times this year. Photo 1. submitted on June 17, 2013, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.
Editor’s want-list for this marker. Photo of the full marker up close. • Can you help?