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Dinosaur Travels: Choteau, Montana

Dinosaur Travels:  Choteau, Montana

Stop number 3 for our family on the Montana Dinosaur Trail is in Choteau: The Old Trail Museum.

Our two children, aged 5 and 6, are crazy about dinosaurs and it looks like we’re in this deep. We were first in Bozeman, and I must admit, for a person who dislikes reptiles was impressed with the dinosaur display in the Museum of the Rockies. We stayed overnight in Great Falls, about an hour drive away from Choteau. We spent the morning in the Two Medicine Dinosaur Center (TMDC) and passed by Choteau on our way for coffee for the grown-ups. By the time we were done with our half-day field program in the Two Medicine Dinosaur Center which was so much fun and educational, our kids were hungry and had the appetite of a tyrannosaur. Roar for burgers and chicken nuggets.

The most kind staff at TMDC told us where to go to pep up the tired dino-hunters for lunch. TMDC and The Old Trail Museum are only about 20 minutes apart.

We enjoyed our lunch at the Outpost Deli, which seems to be popular and just across the street from the museum. With another family with small children, we ate at the tables outside and enjoyed Montana’s big blue sky on a beautiful summer day.

Revived, we crossed the street from the restaurant to the museum where a dinosaur that I initially thought was a Triceratops stands guard. I stand corrected. It is an Einiosuarus. Full name:  Einiosaurus procurvicornis.  It’s a dinosaur found in Montana and lived in the Cretaceous, about 75 million years ago. It’s name is from the Blackfeet iinii meaning bison and the Ancient Greek sauros meaning lizard. It’s horns above its eyes are low and short compared to Triceratops’ prominent ones.   It’s species name refers to the its forward curving horn.  It was first discovered in the Blackfeet Reservation.

While we were looking at the display of Einiosaurus procurvicornis inside the museum, I feel a small hand tug at me.

“Mommy, did you know that Dr. Scott named this dinosaur?”

I look at the museum write-up: “First discovered by Scott Sampson…” And later, I find the citation in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology from 1995: Two new horned dinosaurs from the Upper Cretaceous Two Medicine Formation, Montana, USA attributed to Scott D Sampson.

Ok, maybe not all TV is bad. My kids watched Dinosaur Train on PBS Kids.

There was a touch hadrosaur bone displayed with a bison bone for comparison.

The entrance fee to The Old Trail Museum is $2 per individual. Not a bad price for a fun afternoon of learning. It’s a small community museum but the dinosaur displays housed in the main museum building were good.

Other than the dinosaurs, there’s a Blackfeet dwelling (called Na Toy Yiss in Blackfeet), a sheep wagon, a bear display, work by Montana artist Jesse Gleason, and the Metis or Michif house. I must confess I have never heard of the Metis and was surprised when a lady asked, “Are you Metis?” Interesting people and history. I would be proud if I have Native American ancestry but no, I don’t.

The afternoon was made sweet and cool by ice cream.  The museum has an Ice Cream Parlor.

The lady at the visitor center learning how the kids were so thrilled with the dinosaurs gave us directions on how to get to Missoula (our next destination) passing by the marker for Egg Mountain.  Egg Mountain is an outcropping of the Two Medicine Formation. Heart marks the area where dinosaur eggs, babies and nests were found.  They were mostly of the Maiasaura, Montana’s state fossil. It was a discovery that showed that dinosaurs were more complex creatures than previously thought and cared for their young.

Thanks for reading our blog post!
-Kathleen PB

Old Trail Museum
Montana Dinosaur Trail
Choteau, Montana
Metis Museum

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