September 2, 2009 > Unearthing the Ice Age of Irvington
Unearthing the Ice Age of Irvington
By Joyce Blueford
The Tri City area has many natural geological wonders that the Math Science Nucleus, a non profit organization, is bringing to the attention of the community through the Children's Natural History Museum. This series of articles, beginning in the July 29, 2009 issue of Tri-City Voice newspaper, will allow the reader to understand their worldwide significance. If interested in helping out with the unfolding concept plan please contact the author (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Rekindling The Fossil Experience In Fremont
"Wes Gordon's contribution to Pleistocene fauna is significant. It was a labor of love that established the Irvingtonian fauna and provides an outstanding basis for Quaternary studies in the Bay Area. Wes Gordon's efforts recovered 58 faunal species that have been catalogued byU.C. Berkeley Paleontological Museum. Now the field trip participants plunged into the abandoned Bell Quarry to view the remains of this extraordinary fossil site. The group wandered through the now overgrown quarry rock piles and slipped into gullies to examine pebbles exposed in the streambeds. It was an exhilarating experience to share the same space that had been scavenged by inspired youths fifty years ago." Dan Day, 2005, Northern California Geological Society
The above quote is typical of the experience people feel when they explore the fossil site in Fremont. The Math Science Nucleus has been leading tours for children over the last few years and the response is always one of awe. Although most of the original quarry is covered, there is still a majestic section on the eastern portion of the old quarry that encompasses Sabercat and Mammoth Creeks.
The section belongs to the City of Fremont and is currently called the 5-Corners Open Space area. Presently it is divided by the 680 Freeway into two segments. The eastern portion of the quarry will be part of a historic park if Annabell Holland, Parks and Recreation Director, has anything to do with it. Director Holland oversees both the City's Recreation Services Division and the Park Maintenance Division. Her team oversees the maintenance of over 1,000 acres of park and open space, and the delivery of recreation programs and opportunities to over 15,000 households a year. She proposed the acquisition of the quarry segment so it can create a fossil experience in the City of Fremont. Just imagine the joy of finding a bit of Ice Age history!
The old quarry will quality as a National Historic Site because in North America this site defines the "Irvingtonian Stage" which is the beginning of the Pleistocene (Ice Age). This term is used by scientists throughout the world.
The largest proponent of saving the fossils both at the Children's Natural History Museum and Sabercat Creek is City of Fremont Councilmember, Bob Wieckowski. Bob is a lifelong resident of Fremont. Bob always laments that he did not know about the fossils as a child and feels that children in this city should be aware of the richness of Fremont's history.
Councilmember Wieckowski first found out about the fossils when the fossils started to move into the Math Science Nucleus in 2003, where his former law office was located. He started talking to the Phil Gordon and William Charles, two of the original Boy Paleontologists and Bob began to realize the significance. You could see the gleam in his eye when he was able to identify the mammoth teeth and tusk. He slowly learned the difference between horse teeth (rectangular) and camel teeth ("w" shaped).
More importantly, he saw the eyes of the children from various schools during field trips and how they were impressed that Fremont was the home of mammoths and sabertooth cats. He is now trying to get the City of Fremont to work with the Math Science Nucleus so these fossils can be on display for generations to come.
If you are interested in learning more about the "Concept Plan," go to the Math Science Nucleus website (http://msnucleus.org) and click on Children's Natural History Museum and you can download this 29 page document that outlines the proposed plans.