On-line Book
Book Cover to Mission 66 Visitor Centers. With image of Dinosaur NM Visitor Center, view from beneath ramp


Table of Contentss




Wright Brothers


Pertified Forest

Rocky Mountain

Cecil Doty



Appendix I

Appendix II

Appendix III

Appendix IV

Mission 66 Visitor Centers
Chapter 1
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Building the Visitor Center

The park sent out invitations for bids on construction of the visitor center in early February 1957, and by the closing date of March 19, had received multiple offers. [49] On April 23 the Department of the Interior issued a press release announcing that R. K. McCullough Construction Company of Salt Lake City would build the $309,000 building, which promised to be "distinctly different from those in other national park areas." In the second week of May, Park Service Project Supervisor R. Neil Grunigen reported that the McCullough Company was "erecting a field office, staking out the building and removing the old quarry structure." Excavation for the employee housing near the quarry was complete and contractors were beginning the concrete form work. Grunigen shared his reports with Superintendent Lombard and both consulted Lyle Bennett, WODC supervisory architect, on issues requiring official approval. [50]

After a month of work, the superintendent complained of slow progress—only fifteen percent of the site had been excavated—and the McCullough Company demanded a meeting with the architects. According to construction representative Lee Starke, delay in the delivery of structural steel resulted in early setbacks, as did waiting for Anshen and Allen to select colors for the block and concrete. By June, the contractors had excavated footings in preparation for beginning "forming and concrete work." [51] R. K. McCullough's superintendent, Duard Davis, had already requested an extension of time because revised drawings for the foundations had not been approved, delaying the order of structural steel. In the meantime, a local Vernal firm, Intermountain Concrete Company, began work on a contract for "roads and parking areas, bridge, base course, colored concrete and curb and gutter, timber guard rail, overlook and walk."

Despite the slow start, Superintendent Lombard reported much progress that Fall. The foundation wall was in place and exterior concrete "treated with acid to create a 'pebble' effect to blend with the rocky background." [52] Newspaper accounts reported details of the building's concrete construction—its glass walls with customized sun filters, and the fourteen-foot ramp wrapping around the side of the tower. By November, the structural steel framework had been erected and steel window sashes installed. Anshen and Allen selected "Mirawal's royal blue no. 202" as the color for the porcelain panels on the east elevation. Without its glass, the roof appeared a delicate steel cage. As winter approached, the "roof sheathing was on all the roofs and the built-up roofing applied on the circular element and low-wing areas." [53]Park Naturalist John Good reported that the building shell was "truly a massive thing." [54] In the month of December work shifted to the interior of the building, as contractors prepared to install wall coverings.

In his "narrative statement" on the building construction, Lee Starke mentioned the excellent relationship between the job superintendent and the contractor, who actually altered problematic aspects of the building without charging the government. A Mission 66 progress report written in March 1958 described the "exemplary accomplishment," emphasizing such technical details as the "Dusklite glass" panel walls of the exhibition hall that would "eliminate the reflection of the summer sun from the adjacent hills." [55] Quarry Visitor Center was completed on May 9, 1958. Along with the upcoming dedication of the building came news that Dinosaur might become a national park; coincidentally, the bill to achieve such status was part of the proposed Sputnik bill. [56]

Quarry Visitor Center, view from parking lot
Figure 15. Quarry Visitor Center, view from parking lot, ca. 1958.
(Photo by Art Hupy, courtesy of Richard Hein.)

The official dedication of Quarry Visitor Center, "Dinosaur Day," began at 2:00 p.m. on June 1. Guests gathered as the Uintah High School band played a celebratory prelude. After Governor George D. Clyde and Superintendent Lombard welcomed guests, Dr. LeRoy Kay, formerly of the Carnegie Museum, spoke about the natural history of the dinosaur quarry. Assistant Secretary of the Interior Roger C. Ernst delivered the dedicatory address. The ribbon cutting ceremony, a tour of the building, and a river boat trip followed. According to newspaper accounts, sixteen hundred people attended the event.

Quarry Visitor Center, view from beneath ramp
Figure 16. Quarry Visitor Center, view from beneath ramp, ca. 1958.
(Photo by Art Hupy, courtesy of Richard Hein.)

During the dedication ceremony, the architects appear to have become displeased with the color of the porcelain enamel panels located between the lower level entrance door and the maintenance door on the east facade. They offered to replace the nine blue panels with clear glass. Superintendent Lombard accepted the offer on the condition that the Park Service not incur additional expenses, but the firm was not willing to alter the building's aesthetics free of charge. The park eventually paid for this change.

Quarry Visitor Center, quarry face and upper level visitor gallery
Figure 17. Quarry Visitor Center, quarry face and upper level visitor gallery, ca. 1958.
(Photo by Art Hupy, courtesy of Richard Hein.)

In a report to the regional director, Superintendent Lombard noted that the public reaction to the building had been "most favorable" and that the park staff was "justly proud." [57] The building was featured on the cover of the July-August Geotimes, a magazine published by the American Geological Institute. For this organization, the building was much more than a Mission 66 achievement. As "the only place in the world where visitors can see bones in the rock and watch paleontologists at work," the building was a landmark educational facility. [58] For the architects, the design brought "national recognition" and "opportunities that made them a leading California firm." [59]

CONTINUED continued



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