Dinosaurs rule at Tucumcari museum

Compiled by William Thompson

The world’s largest collection of bronze dinosaur skeletons awaits visitors to Mesalands Community College’s Dinosaur Museum in Tucumcari. Plenty of original fossils are on hand for natural history lovers, and children will delight knowing they can touch most of the exhibits and play in the children’s activity area.

A paleontology laboratory is also on site where one might sneak a peek at paleontologists at work. A big gift shop contains scientific books, rocks and minerals, fossils, clothing and plenty of dinosaur toys and games for children.

HOW TO GET THERE
From Portales take N.M. 267 west through Floyd and Melrose, then take N.M. 268 north to its junction with N.M. 209, follow N.M. 209 into Tucumcari. From Clovis take N.M. 209 all the way into Tucumcari. When you enter Tucumcari you’ll be on First Street. Continue on First Street across Route 66 then turn right on Laughlin Street. The museum is in the first block of Laughlin Street after turning from First Street. It’s a one-way trip of a little more than 100 miles.

HOW DID A DINOSAUR MUSEUM WIND UP IN TUCUMCARI?
Tucumcari and Quay County lie in the midst of a great prehistoric fossil bed.
The museum opened in 2000 after the college decided in 1997 it wanted a dinosaur museum to complement its natural science classes. According to the college’s Web site, 90 percent of the funds needed for the museum came from local businesses, organizations and individuals. The dinosaur bronzes in the museum were created in the college’s foundry.
HOURS AND FEES
Admission for adults is $5 and children 5 to 11 get in for $3. Seniors pay $4.50. The museum has already started its extended summer hours which are Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

WHAT ABOUT
SIGHTSEEING ON THE WAY?
Just before you get to Ragland you’ll round a curve and then you’ll suddenly experience the abrupt dropoff of the caprock area which is filled with rocky and hilly terrain … and trees. The red rocks really stand out on a sunny day. Then about five miles before you get into Tucumcari, picturesque Tucumcari Mountain springs into view.

Contact Information
See the museum’s Web site by clicking on the link from Mesalands Community College Web site at mesalands.edu. Or call the museum at 461-3466.