Hell Creek Relics started out in 1993 when some friends and I were attending Valley City State University decided to head west in search of dinosaur bones.
We were inexperienced at the time, but by the end of the weekend we had found three triceratops skulls and we hadn’t even left the state. Hell Creek is the land formation we were looking in and it seemed very appropriate with extreme temperatures and the dry desert like atmosphere. Over the course of the summer and the excavation process near Rhame, ND, we developed relationships with numerous ranchers and began obtaining land contracts. Luckily, Valley City had a wealth of knowledgeable people who had worked for Triebold Paleontology in the past.
There really are not a lot of classes or schools you can attend for this kind of thing. It became a hands on experience and I did my best to surround myself with people who could teach me the techniques or tell me where to obtain supplies. There was also the largest fossil and gem show in the world to attend in Tucson, AZ. Nearly every fossil dealer on the planet passes through Tucson at one time or another. It really is the perfect spot to network and find technical resources not easily found on the open market--everything from microsand blasters for cleaning bones to specialty adhesives and preservatives.
Over the course of the next few years, we extended our digging season by heading to Kansas. Here we managed to bring back a piranha-like fourteen-foot-long Xiphactinus fish, and a twenty-eight-foot-long crocodile like Mososaur. It was during this time a very important contact was made. Dr. Jon Kardazki had been a private collector of various artifacts for years and was looking to start a museum. The Museum of World Treasures started in an abandoned warehouse in the old town district of Wichita, KS. The next few years saw a great transformation as most of the important finds became a major part of the museum exhibits.
Up until 2005, everything was more like a serious hobby that occupied nearly all of my spare time. In 2005, we contracted some land in northwest South Dakota, on the Little Missouri River, from a farmer who told us we were wasting our time. That very same day after hiking for miles in 100 degree heat, we stumbled across the find of a lifetime. A forty-two-foot-long and fourteen-foot-high tyrannosaurus. He is only one of about eighteen complete Tyrannosaurus rexes ever found. He was named Ivan after the rancher who was astonished at the discovery. It is now the center piece of the World Treasures Museum.
Finding a T. rex was a rush like no other, but the Triceratops “Bob” is probably the most important project I’ve ever worked on. Although I did not get the thrill of discovery on this one, I was brought in for an amazing excavation. Every day brought in more and more bones. We began to realize that Bob was a record setter, so large and so complete, I couldn’t wait to see the skeleton restored and mounted. Getting to see the process through to the finish I began to notice characteristics you might not if you didn’t get to work so close. For instance, Bob's left leg is about four inches longer than his right, it probably gave him a swagger. There are also big teeth marks, punctures and rakes on some of his bones from scavengers, most likely raptors.
This is truly a spectacular find and my whole hearted desire is to find a place for him in North Dakota.