On November 11th, Great Basin Historical Society and Museum was the recipient of a substantial fossil and mineral donation from the estate of the late Howard Shanks of Ames, Iowa.  The gift was originally made to the Mesalands Dinosaur Museum in Tucumcari, New Mexico where it was partially identified and examined.  The size of the collection was much larger than Mesalands Museum could ever hope to utilize and so some of the best specimens were offered to our Museum.  There was no cost to us; the only stipulation was that we drive out to New Mexico to provide transportation.

The collection is really quite amazing, consisting of hundreds - perhaps thousands of items; some of it is still untouched in the original shipping boxes.  Much of it relates to our area, in various ways, and will make a nice addition to our present collection.  We are now trying to find room and work some of the more attractive pieces into our displays.

Some of the fossils are rare, including some large, beautiful examples of Pennsylvanian age, tree bark, roots, rootlets, leaves and reproductive cones from extinct Lycopod trees as well as some attractive Pennsylvanian ferns.  We expect to eventually have one of the better fossilized wood displays in this area. There are also some very nice, mostly complete, crinoids, corals, fish, leaves, insects and many varieties of naturally occurring minerals.  Mr. Shanks’ only request was that his collection be made available to the public and that it be used to enhance the academic performance of students.  Here at the Museum we hope to do just that – that is our goal as well.  We hope to have most of these specimens on display by about spring.  When that happens, be sure to come by and have a look.  We express a special thanks to Mesaland Museum for their generosity.