A new outdoor exhibit will be highlighted on the Fossil Hills Trail with a 10:30 a.m. talk in the visitor center, followed by a walk and ribbon cutting. Park rangers will lead guided hikes to the fossil hills and talks on American Indian culture during the afternoon, and assist Jr. Rangers in doing a fun activity book. Native American artist Carol Snow will also be at the visitor center during the holiday weekend, July 4–7, and will assist visitors in making patriotic themed bookmarks and displaying her artwork including several new patriotic-themed pieces.
The new exhibit deals with some intriguing history, very appropriate for a Fourth of July Weekend. It seems that a young military engineer, Lt. G.K. Warren, first explored and mapped the Niobrara River in 1857. He camped nearby the visitor center, and drew a sketch of the scenic skyline. This same skyline forms the northern ridge at the eastern edge of the park and still bears a small hole-in-the-rock feature. That might be the end of a story of early exploration, were it not for the fact that then General Warren went on to considerable fame at the Battle of Gettysburg on July 2, 1863.
Sometimes called the "Savior of Little Round Top," Gouverneur K. Warren was instrumental in spotting a weakness in the northern lines and rushing troops in the nick of time to defend that strategic high point in the Union defenses. There were many heroes at Gettysburg over its three day length, but Warren seems to occupy a singular niche at one of the crucial instances. The 150th anniversary of that battle, with much fanfare, is also occurring during this year's July 4th period. Ranger Mark Hertig will deliver a talk at 10:30 a.m. describing Warren's exploits on the Niobrara and at Gettysburg and discuss the nature of heroes and memory in battle, and share photos of a recent visit to Gettysburg.
So, if you can't get to Gettysburg, pack a picnic lunch, and head to Agate Fossil Beds for a different experience this holiday weekend!