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Day 8 - Drumheller, AB

Today started out as a beautiful day with the sun shining and drying things out.

We all drove to the Royal Tyrrell Museum, just outside of Drumheller AB.

It is an amazing complex that didn't seem as huge as it is when we walked in the door. The museum is located in the Canadian badlands, surrounded by one of the richest fossil deposits in the world.

This is the first gallery that greets you as you enter the front door. If this T-Rex isn't enough to knock your socks off, then you should just go home.

I was sure glad this little guy was a fossil because he looked at me like I was going to be an appetizer!

Of course, who is not impressed with this killing machine, Tyrannosaurus Rex?

This Tyrannosaurus Rex was found by two high schools students in 1980. After an arduous excavation and the removal of over 248 tons of rock, this incredible skeleton emerged, with one of the best preserved skulls in the world. The chemical element manganese tinted the bones during fossilization, giving them the rare dark blue coloration and earning the specimen his name: "Black Beauty".

We were able to view into the laboratory where paleontologists were working on removing rock from specimens using a tool that resembled a dental drill. It is a very slow and laborious process.

This is a Camarasaurus leg. It was a herbivore and was not as large as some of the other dinosaurs.

Seems like Tyrannosaurus Rex must have been in the majority in this area because they had many examples of them. This however, was one of the better skeletons in the museum.

Can you believe a three dimensional fossil of a pine cone? It was about 3/4 of an inch across. Paleontologists were able to use acid to remove the rock from inside the cone leaving just the petals!

When you walk into this room displaying sea creatures in front of, and below you on the glass floor you walk on, lights come on and a narration begins explaining each of the creatures by individually lighting them as they are being described.

These are the original fossilized bones of the "Triassic Giant". The bones of this huge sea creature were found along the banks of the Sikanni Chief River.

Another room where the skeletons are displayed in a lifelike manner. In the lower right is a real Camarasaurus bone.

Here was a depiction of an Allasaurus killing a Camptosaurus. Allasaurus was the most common carnivorous dinosaur of the Jurassic age in North America.

The area around the museum is known as the Canadian Bad Lands. There are driving and walking trails through the area that start from the museum.

After the museum, a few of us headed over to The Last Chance Saloon in Wayne, AB for lunch. This saloon has been in existance for 98 years.

Inside it was decorated with an eclectic assortment of "stuff", including money from all over the world tacked onto the ceiling.

I loved the sign above:
"BEER, helping white guys dance since 1842".

As we were eating, Mark & Ann, and Wayne & Clair arrived. Clair was wearing a "Last Chance Saloon" vest she had purchased on an earlier trip.

Our next stop was The Rosedale Suspension Bridge crossing the Red Deer River outside of Rosedale, AB. Built in 1931 for mining employees needing to cross the river, it was in use until 1957.

To commemorate part the colorful mining history of the Drumheller Valley, in 1958 the Alberta Government rebuilt the suspension bridge for public use.

The bridge is very stable, but it is still a suspension bridge and can be bounced and moved from side-to-side, much to my chagrin!

A view of the bridge from the other side of the river.

We then went to visit the Hoodoos. Hoodoos are eroded pillars of soft sandstone rock, topped with a resilient cap.

The cap protects the softer rock underneath from eroding as quickly as the surrounding rock. Once the cap deteriorates, the pillar is more vulnerable to the elements and is subjected to rapid deterioration.

Next stop, The Atlas Coal Mine National Historic Site. It is one of the most complete coal mining museums in Canada.

The last operating mine in the Drumheller Valley, Atlas closed it's doors in 1979. This building housed the company offices.

This is a miner's house which was a big step up for the miners who, prior to this, lived in tents. Once the men had these houses they started bringing their wives over from Europe and began raising children.

The Tipple, where the mined coal was dropped through screens and sized into three sizes and stored in bins until loading onto rail cars.

There was a great deal of old mining equipment laying around the Historic Site.

A building housing the shower house - another benefit gained by the miners after they unionized.

These are the showers. Notice how low they are. The men who worked in the mines were all very short.

We decided to take the mine tour and ended up with a private tour for the four of us. Here our guide demonstrates the carbide light that was used in the mines for years.

Claire & Ron and Susan & Bill are suited up and ready for the tour.

A portion of the Transportation Tunnel that brought the coal from the mine entrance down to the Tipple. If we had known how far we had to hike, I'm not sure we would have signed up for the tour..ignorance is bliss!

However, here we go.

The first leg of our trip was up the exposed wooden part of the transportation tunnel.

Looking back down the tunnel; it was, I would guess, about a 35 degree incline.

This is the underground part of the tunnel and the floor was still wet with rain which made it somewhat treacherous going.

We felt the most important thing to come out of the mine were the visitors!

At the top of the tunnel, next to the mine opening, portions were being slowly reclaimed by the land. We were not allowed to go into the mine due to the excessive rain they had recently.

We chose to take the exterior walk to the bottom. This is a view of the Transportation Tunnel from the top as we walk down.

A panoramic view of the Red Deer Valley taken from the Atlas Coal Mine opening.

Ed & Ann Rzepka drove the Dinosaur Trail and took the ferry to get across the Red Deer River. (Ed Rzepka)

Not much traffic on the road today. (Ed Rzepka)

Ed & Ann also had a solo ride across the river.
(Ed Rzepka)

There were tornado warnings out today, but most of us just ignored them because we were in the sun. Ed took this picture of one that did not touch the ground. As you can see in the picture, this is not the typical tornado cloud formation. (Ed Rzepka)

This is a panoramic view of Horse Thief Canyon which is along the Dinosaur Trail. (Ed Rzepka)

We asked our guide where to find the best ice cream in the area and he directed us to this place in Rosedale. He was not wrong, the ice cream was delicious!

We had a beautiful day and an exquisite sunset which was very welcome after the rainy days we have experienced.

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