Dinosaurs and tourism thrive in state park

Montana State Roundup

Published April 1, 1991  | April 1991 issue

Following the discovery of a dinosaur skeleton last summer, Makoshika State Park near Glendive is constructing an interpretative center to capitalize on the history of the area.

Archaeology buffs from the Milwaukee Museum, who paid the state for the opportunity to explore the badlands of eastern Montana, unearthed the skeleton. The Museum of the Rockies, Bozeman, will extract the skeleton this July and will prepare it for display. While the skull will return to Makoshika and the new center, the rest of the skeleton will remain at the museum in Bozeman.

Construction of the center will start this spring with completion next summer. Makoshika State Park, at 8,800 acres, is one of Montana's largest state parks. Funding for the center will come from the park's capital investment and entrance and camping fees. The park and center will be self- supporting, according to Mike Sullivan, park manager. Sullivan estimates that the center could increase visitors by 50 percent annually—to more than 20,000.

"The primary objective for the center is to enlighten people to the subtleties of eastern Montana," Sullivan says. Discoveries in the area have indicated that early civilized man settled in the park. "It is one of the cradles of civilization for the North American continent," Sullivan says.

Also, nearby Glendive anticipates added dollars to its economy as a result of park visitors spending time in town. The project is a cooperative effort between the park and the local business community.

Diane Wells