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December 10, 2008 > Meet the Boy Paleontologists

Meet the Boy Paleontologists

Submitted By Joyce R. Blueford

For over a million years fossils of mammoths, sabertooth cats, mastodons, sloths and other large mammals laid undisturbed in the Fremont foothills. In the 1970s, the building of the 680 freeway sealed them in the ground once again. Relive the days of the 1940s when a team of boys, for over 10 years, uncovered the beginning of the Ice Age.

The Boy Paleontologists were noted throughout the United States in the 1940s. A band of boys ranging in age from 7 to 13 unearthed one of the best preserved fossil sites in North America. Fossils from the Irvington District in Fremont created such an national event, that a section of geologic time was honored as the Irvingtonian Stage, which represented the beginning of the Pleistocene.

The leader of the Boy Paleontologists was a teacher, Wesley Gordon. As a teacher, he collected samples for his students so he could excite their interest. He would tell true stories of mammoths, mastodons, sabertooth cats, camels, and sloths that roamed the savannah type flatlands closer to the bay.

Come see the Ice Age fossils of Fremont and the boys who found them in the 1940s. On Saturday, December 13 the Math Science Nucleus has organized eight of the original "boys" to relive their stories with the public. Between 1 - 3 p.m. they will be available to sign of some of the original "Life Magazine" photos that gave them national notoriety. They will be telling stories of their experience as "boy paleontologists."

The Children's Natural History Museum will be open, so visitors can see a portion of the 100,000 fossils collected including mammoths, sabertooth cats, camels, short-faced bears, horses and other fossils. The Nature Hall, Hall of Small Wonders, Star Hall, and Mineral and Rock Hall will also be opened.

During the evening there will be a reception in honor of the "boys" and their contribution to local history. Robert Wieckowski, city councilmember, will be hosting the event. Annabell Holland, Director of Parks and Recreation, will be updating the group on the possible creation of a "Sabercat Creek Historical Park."

The boys, who are now in their 70s and 80s, that will be attending include Phil Gordon, William Charles, Les Kent from Hayward, Leonard Hennigan from Arizona, Jay Broadwell from Lafayette, California, Bill Seaver from Carmillo, California, Danny Hennigan from Tracy, and Bryon Lewis from Oakhurst, California.

"Meet the Boys" between 1 and 3 p.m. ($2 admission), select your favorite picture of the Boy Paleontologists at work ($10 per photo) and get it signed. The annual fundraiser for the museum housing this unique collection will take place from 6 - 9:30 p.m. Hear the tales of the fossils as the Boys recount their experiences as fossil hunters. The cost is $75 per person and $125 per couple.


Preserving our Past
Ice Age Mammals and the Boy Paleontologists
Saturday, December 13
1 - 3 p.m.
Children's National History Museum
4074 Eggers Dr. (second floor), Fremont
(510) 790-6284
www.msnucleus.org

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