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Agate Fossil Beds National Monument, NE

National Park Service
The Running Water Wintercount in the entrance room for the James H. Cook Gallery.
The Running Water Wintercount in the entrance room for the James H. Cook Gallery.

This wintercount was painted by Dawn Little Sky from the Pine Ridge Reservation for Agate Fossil Beds in 1990. Using events from actual Lakota wintercounts and events that affected the Lakota, the Cooks and all of us she put an extensive history lesson on an elk hide. This hide hangs in the entrance room of the James H. Cook Collection.

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The Agate Fossil Hills, University on the left and Carnegie on the right.
The Agate Fossil Hills, University on the left and Carnegie on the right.

These two hills were the destination of many paleontologists who excavated mammal fossils in the early 1900s. They found a huge bonebed comprised of thousands of fossils from mainly a small rhino called Menoceras. Also found were strange critters with names like Daeodon and Moropus.

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The Great Bonebed of Agate
The Great Bonebed of Agate

In the early 1900s, paleontologists from many museums and universities worked in the Fossil Hills quarries and took huge slabs of the bonebed home with them to study.

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The Red Cloud shirt exhibit in the James H. Cook Gallery.
The Red Cloud shirt exhibit in the James H. Cook Gallery.

The James H. Cook Gallery resulted from a friendship between James Cook and Red Cloud of the Oglala Lakota Sioux. Many of the items in the collection are important artifacts such as Red Cloud's shirt and three generations of pipebags. There are also many items that were made for members of the Cook family.

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The visitor center at Agate Fossil Beds National Monument
The visitor center at Agate Fossil Beds National Monument

The visitor center at Agate Fossil Beds National Monument was built in 1992. It houses exhibits describing the Miocene mammal fossils found nearby in the late 1890s, the historic excavations as well as the James H. Cook Gallery. The gallery features American Indian artifacts which resulted from a friendship between rancher James Cook and Red Cloud of the Oglala Lakota Sioux.

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The Miocene death scene diorama.
The Miocene death scene diorama.

Life-size skeletons and a reconsturcted bonebed are the key elements of the diorama in the main room of the visitor center. The bones were cast from the actual fossils that were found in the Agate Hills framed by the windows. This diorama tells the story of the death scene and the creation of the bonebed some 20 million years ago.

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Agate Fossil Beds National Monument

During the 1890s, scientists rediscovered what the Lakota Sioux already knew - bones preserved in one of the most complete Miocene mammal sites in the world. Yet, this place called "Agate" is a landscape...[more]

Address

301 River Road
Harrison, NE 69346
Email:agfo_ranger_activities@nps.gov

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Directions

Access to region by automobile is possible via Interstates 80, 90 and 25, and various state highways and county roads. Visitors traveling east-west on U.S. Highway 26, turn North on State Highway 29 at Mitchell, Nebraska. The park is 34 miles from Mitchell. Turn east on River Road (paved) and follow the National Park Service signs for three miles. Visitors traveling on U.S. Highway 20, turn South on State Highway 29 at Harrison, Nebraska. The park is 22 miles from Harrison. Turn east on River Road (paved) and follow the National Park Service signs for three miles. http://www.nps.gov/anac/planyourvisit/directions.htm

Activities
  • FISHING FISHING
  • HIKING HIKING
  • PHOTOGRAPHY PHOTOGRAPHY
  • WILDLIFE VIEWING WILDLIFE VIEWING
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