Cover image for Hell Creek, Montana : America's key to the prehistoric past
Hell Creek, Montana : America's key to the prehistoric past
Dingus, Lowell.
Personal Author:
First U.S. edition.
Publication Information:
New York : St. Martin's Press, 2004.
Physical Description:
x, 242 pages; 19 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
E78.M9 D56 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



Hell Creek, Montana, is one of the most windswept, hardscrabble locales in the American West-a quiet town of ranchers, farmers, and others who seek the beauty of the open spaces. It is also the unlikely setting of some of the most fascinating events in the history of the United States and North America. From the first-ever discovery of a Tyrannosaurus rex to Lewis and Clark's landmark expedition; from the Freeman compound standoff to Sitting Bull and Little Big Horn, Hell Creek has been a central player in the events of the last two hundred years-and the last 200 million.

Now, with grace and quiet wit, renowned paleontologist and writer Lowell Dingus takes us on a tour of this desolate, beautiful, out-of-the-way place and illuminates its inhabitants, geology, paleontology, and surprising place in history. Nature lovers, dinosaur buffs, and people fascinated with the turbulent history--both ancient and modern--of the American West will find much to delight them in this journey to Hell Creek.

Author Notes

Lowell Dingus is a research associate at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City as well as at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County.

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

Readers may be confused by the title of this book by paleontologist Dingus (The Mistaken Extinction), which doesn't do justice to his story: an occasionally lyrical and meditative history of Montana's Badlands, a desolate region that he has clearly come to love during his paleontological expeditions. The rugged Badlands of east-central Montana stretch for more than 100 miles along the south bank of the Missouri River. The area hasn't always been a giant's playground of buttes and coulees and inhospitable ravines. Seventy million years ago T. rex chased its prey through a luxuriant floodplain that covered the area. The first skeletal T. rex remains were discovered here, and the most complete specimen before the $7 million Sue was found on a local ranch by an amateur bone hunter in the 1960s. Meriwether Clark became the first fossil hunter of the American West when he picked up a dinosaur bone a little farther upriver on the Corps of Discovery's journey to the Pacific. The residents of the Badlands town of Jordan have seen their share of excitement more recently: in 1996 right-wing extremists called the Freemen engaged the FBI in a standoff that attracted national media attention. Given its wide range, this book should attract readers of history and lovers of the American West in addition to dinosaur junkies. 15 b&w photos. Agent, Samuel Fleishman. (July) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Paleontologist Dingus is a research assistant at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City and at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. As a graduate student, he did fieldwork in the desolate badlands near Hell Creek, MT, where he became interested in the stories of the region. This informal local history combines lively personal anecdotes about research and museum collecting with thoroughly researched accounts of historical events, including the Lewis and Clark expedition (whose members located dinosaur bones near Hell Creek but didn't recognize what they were), Custer's Last Stand, and the 1996 standoff between the Freemen and federal government agents. One of the last wild bison herds survived near Hell Creek, and the first T-Rex skeletons were found there. Strictly speaking, this is history rather than prehistory. Recommended for libraries interested in Montana and the American West.-Amy Brunvand, Univ. of Utah Lib., Salt Lake City (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. ix
Prologuep. 1
1. Badlands and Brandingp. 9
2. Time Traveling Through Hell Creekp. 18
3. Early Explorationp. 31
4. In the Wake of Custer's Ruinp. 52
5. The Vanishing Herdsp. 86
6. The Resurrection of Tyrannosaurusp. 111
7. Following in the Footstepsp. 151
8. Fatal Impact and Enormous Eruptionsp. 166
9. Echoes of the Wild Westp. 183
10. Is the Past the Key to the Future?p. 205
Epiloguep. 222
Notesp. 233