Chalk Beds.Not until the early '70s was the existence of chalk known in the U. S. About that time, however, it became known in scientific circles in Kansas that practically limitless beds of chalk occur in the Cretaceous formations of this state, the discovery having been made by the late Dr. Bunn, while a student at the University of Kansas. These beds have been found in a number of Kansas counties, the chalk once forming the bed of the Cretaceous ocean. Should a demand ever arise for the article the supply would be practically unlimited. As a rule this chalk is soft and fine grained. A large portion of it is slightly tinged with yellow, from oxide of iron, while much is snowy white. It also differs from the old world article, in that the Rhizopod shells, which sometimes comprises nearly the entire makeup of the latter, are entirely wanting in that found in the Kansas beds. The amount of impurities in the Kansas chalk rarely amounts to more than 15 or 16 per cent.
In 1909, Charles H. Sternberg of Lawrence, an authority on the Kansas chalk beds, issued a volume entitled "Life of a Fossil Hunter," in which the following description of conditions in one of the Kansas chalk beds might be typical of others: "Both sides of my ravine are bordered with cream-colored, or yellow, chalk, with blue below. Sometimes for hundreds of feet the rock is entirely denuded and cut into lateral ravines, ridges, and mounds, or beautifully scultptured into tower and obelisk. Sometimes it takes on the semblance of a ruined city, with walls of tottering masonry, and only a near approach can convince the eye that this is only another example of that mimicry in which nature so frequently indulges. The chalk beds are entirely bare of vegetation, with the exception of a desert shrub that 'finds a foothold in the rifted rock' and sends its roots down every crevice. . . . Sometimes I come upon gorges only two feet wide and fifty feet deep; sometimes for five miles or more the sides of the ravine will be only a few feet high."
These chalk beds are rich in specimens of extinct animal and plant life and have yielded many of the world's finest specimens of the fauna and flora of the Cretaceous period. The first thorough exploitation of the beds was in 1876, when expeditions under Prof. Benjamin F. Mudge and Mr. Sternberg went out, each procuring many rare specimens, During subsequent years Mr. Sternberg has been an assiduous collector, finding fossil remains of the mososaur, ram nosed tylosaur, giant Cretaceous fish, Cretaceous shark, giant sea tortoise, crinoids and fossil leaves. The most of his specimens were obtained in the counties of Logan and Gove, and many now enrich some of the world's most noted museums, including the British Museum of Natural History, London; the Royal Museum of Munich; the Smithsonian Institution, Washington; American Museum of Natural History, New York; Carnegie Museum, Pittsburg, Pa.; University of Kansas, Lawrence, and other institutions. (See also Geology and Paleontology.)Pages 308-309 from volume I of Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc. ... / with a supplementary volume devoted to selected personal history and reminiscence. Standard Pub. Co. Chicago : 1912. 3 v. in 4. : front., ill., ports.; 28 cm. Vols. I-II edited by Frank W. Blackmar. Transcribed May 2002 by Carolyn Ward.
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