Shalimar!

Removing the sign from the gate to Shalimar Ranch.
Removing the sign from the gate to Shalimar Ranch.

Shalimar Ranch, near Harrison, Nebraska, has been sold. Shalimar is the place where, in the spring of 1991, I collected my first fossil vertebrate specimen – the grinning skull and lower jaws of an oreodon. Shalimar has been the setting for a fossil mammal field course led for thirty consecutive years by William R. Hammer, a paleontologist at Augustana College. A significant number of student participants, myself included, have gone on to get advanced degrees in paleontology, geology and other related fields. For the last eight years, I have accompanied the field course as an assistant, and the specimens I’ve collected on those trips have gone into the collections at the N. C. Museum of Natural Sciences.

Top view of an oreodon skull recently exposed by spring runoff.
Top view of an oreodon skull recently exposed by spring runoff.

When the ranch was sold, the field course tentatively scheduled to run this spring was cancelled. Instead, several past participants traveled to Nebraska to visit with our friends, Bordy and Mary Munson, former owners of the ranch. Our visit coincided with Bordy’s birthday, and his sons Spencer and Alex were there to celebrate with him. Despite the apparent end of our thirty-year run, it was a festive and hopeful visit.

(L-R) Nate Smith, Spencer, Mary, Bordy and Alex Munson, Ash Poust and Bill Hammer posing at the Warbonnet Battlefield Memorial.
(L-R) Nate Smith, Spencer, Mary, Bordy and Alex Munson, Ash Poust and Bill Hammer posing at the Warbonnet Battlefield Memorial.

We plan to open up a dialog with the new owners about continuing to run our field course on their property. Fingers crossed!

Sunset at Shalimar Ranch.
Sunset at Shalimar Ranch.
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7 thoughts on “Shalimar!”

  1. I’m glad I had the opportunity to learn some fossil hunting skills at Shalimar – I’ll always remember it fondly. Good luck with the new owners.

    1. Thanks for your comment, Cathy. I will update you here when and if I hear anything new about the status of the ranch.

  2. Have fun! Wish I could be there. Say hi to everyone. Thanks for the parting picture of that tree. It is one of my favorites. I will miss the ranch and the Munsons.

    1. Don’t give up the ship, Dinochick! We may yet go back. As for the cottonwood, I’ll bet I have more than 300 pictures of it. One of my favorites is one that you took with a sheet of rain moving up behind it and me watching in the foreground.

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