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The Tualatin Public Library will be the city's temporary stopover on the Ice Age Floods National Geologic Trail.

TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Yvonne Addington, president of the Tualatin Historical Society, stands in front of the 14,000-year-old bones of a mastodon on display at the Tualatin Library. The mastodon was found by Portland State University student John George in the early 1960s. The Heritage Center is hosting an Ice Age program, 'The Demise of an Ice Age Giant,' on Thursday, April 18., Times - News  Tualatin will formally dedicate the Tualatin Public Library as a temporary visitor center for the Ice Age Floods National Geologic Trail on Thursday, June 9.

The dedication begins with a reception at 5 p.m. That will be followed by a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 6 p.m.

At 6 and 7 p.m., attendees can view the video "Tualatin: Crossroads of the Ice Age Floods."

The short documentary, created by the Tualatin Ice Age Foundation, focuses on the so-called Missoula floods that occurred 15,000 to 18,000 years ago, when a massive ice dam stretched across much of what is now northern Idaho and Montana. That dam periodically burst and reformed. It released floodwaters that rushed across Washington and Oregon to the Pacific Ocean, carving the landscapes we now know.

Scott Burns, a professor emeritus of geology at PSU, said he's looking forward to the opening of the new temporary visitor center at the library at 18878 S.W. Martinazzi Ave.

"We put this together, and we're going to be focusing on … the Missoula floods for the whole Pacific Northwest, number one, and then specifically for the Portland area," Burns said. "The floods came through Lake Oswego and Tualatin. It filled up the Tualatin Valley all the way up to 400 feet elevation, and all that water went back into the Willamette River, out into the ocean. The dam reformed up in northern Idaho, and then it broke, and the water came down."

Altogether, Burns said, scientists believe water from no fewer than 40 major floods filled the Portland area during the millennia-long period.

In addition to the Missoula floods, the visitor's center will focus on the animals that lived in the area at the time, including the famous Tualatin mastodon, unearthed in 1962 just south of what is today the parking lot of the Tualatin Fred Meyer store. The articulated mastodon skeleton is mounted in front of an etched-glass image of a mastodon inside the Tualatin Public Library.

"The library there is the only library in the United States with a mastodon in the library," said Burns, who grew up in Beaverton.

In addition, plans are to have bones from a mastodon, mammoth, giant ground sloth, and four or more other animals from the ice age.

PMG FILE PHOTO - Tualatin historian Yvonne Addington shares a few words during the unveiling of a mastodon sculpture during Cabela's pre-grand opening at Nyberg Rivers in 2014. Hopes are to have an entire mammoth skeleton as well, something that was found on Dyke Farm in Hillsboro, Burns said.

Mammoths and mastodons were related — both are cousins of the African and Asian elephant — but separate species that coexisted in the Pacific Northwest before they went extinct, casualties of a warming climate, overhunting and genetic defects. Woolly mammoths are believed to have outlived the mastodons by nearly 10,000 years before completely dying out.

The center will also describe the history of the Kalapuyan people, the inhabitants of the Willamette Valley from the ice ages well into the 19th century, when they were displaced by European American settlers arriving on the Oregon Trail.

"We're one of the first visitor centers on this new Ice Age Floods National Geologic Trail. In theory, 20 visitor centers (will be designated) from here all the way up to Missoula, Montana," said Burns, who is now in his 32nd year of teaching at PSU.

He said the foundation's dream is to eventually move into a larger facility that will be able to cater to students who live in Beaverton, Tigard, Tualatin, Lake Oswego, Wilsonville, Newberg and Sherwood. He expects that future center to be in the Tualatin area, although it will serve the greater Willamette Valley.

Plans are to eventually move out of the library and into a rented facility that would have space for the exhibits, a little theater, gift shop, something Burns estimates would cost an estimated $200,000 or more.

"Then eventually my dream is that we have our own standalone place, some place in the area and that would take a little bit more money because you got to build a building," said Burns. "So we're in the first stages."

The Ice Age Floods National Geologic Trail was established by Congress in 2009.

A similar reception for the Ice Age Floods National Geological Trail visitor center will be held on Saturday, June 11, at 3 p.m. with viewing of the documentary set for 4 and 5 p.m.


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