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A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held June 9. Hopes are to add more animal bones, including a mammoth, in the future.

PMG PHOTO: RAY PITZ - Tualatin City Councilor Bridget Brooks cuts the ribbon on the Ice Age Floods National Geologic Trail temporary visitors center inside the Tualatin Public Library on June 9 as Scott Burns, a PSU professor emeritus of geology, looks on. Others who have helped bring the center to fruition, include from left, Jerianne Thompson, David Ellingson, Sylvia Thompson, Rick Thompson, Yvonne Addington and Linda Moholt. After years of working to highlight Tualatin's place in Ice Age history, a ribbon-cutting ceremony was held Thursday, June 9, dedicating the temporary visitor center for the Ice Age Floods National Geologic Trail.

That center at the Tualatin Public Library will be the first of up to 20 facilities spanning from Oregon to Missoula, Montana, to focus on the Missoula floods, caused by a massive ice dam that periodically burst and reformed during the last ice age well over 10,000 years ago.

Scott Burns, a professor emeritus of geology at Portland State University who served as emcee at the event, said he's happy that the visitor center is finally coming to fruition.

"This is a miracle," he said about the visitor center. "Tonight is kind of a dream come true for us to finally do the ribbon cutting and officially announce and show the video."

The video, "Tualatin: Crossroads of the Ice Age Floods," contains some spectacular drone footage showing the effects of how the Missoula floods created the landscapes we see around the Portland metro area today. The documentary, created by the Tualatin Ice Age Foundation, also features local geologic experts talking about the importance of the Ice Age Floods National Geographic Trail.

PMG PHOTO: RAY PITZ - The famed Tualatin mastodon, which was unearthed in 1962 near what is now the Tualatin Fred Meyer, is one of the exhibits those visiting the Ice Age Floods National Geologic Trail temporary visitors center can see. The Tualatin Public Library already contains several glass cases containing skeletons and replicas of animals found around the area that date to the Ice Age. That includes mastodon and mammoth tusks, as well as an ancient bison skull found in Woodburn.

Of course, the library also has the famed Tualatin mastodon, which was unearthed in 1962 near what is now the Tualatin Fred Meyer.

"Kids … they come in and it blows their mind," Jerianne Thompson, Tualatin's library director, said of the articulated mastodon skeleton mounted on an etched glass image of a mastodon.

Thompson, who is also on the Tualatin Ice Age Foundation Board, said she's happy to have the library serve as the Ice Age Floods National Geologic Trail visitor center.

"We have a tie-in to history, I think, with the mastodon skeleton being discovered so close to the library. It's a great partnership between us and the other agencies," said Thompson.

The display is expected to be expanded in the future, she said, and a mammoth tooth will be added to current features as well.

Yvonne Addington, vice president of the Tualatin Ice Age Foundation, said she's pleased that the temporary visitor center will locate in the library as well.

"We have all this history and no one knows about it," said Addington, adding that the huge floods that came through Tualatin and the area "changed forever the way that we looked."

PMG PHOTO: RAY PITZ - The Tualatin Public Library already has numerous exhibits on hand pertaining to bones or replicas of animals who once roamed the area.Burns said he's also working on getting a mammoth skeleton, which was unearthed in Hillsboro, up to Tualatin from its repository at the University of Oregon.

"What we do in the state of Oregon, when someone finds a fossil, we send everything to the University of Oregon and it's photographed and categorized and identified and everything and so it goes onto a website and so its there for perpetuity," Burns said.

He said hopes are to get the mammoth skeleton into the visitor center over the next two years. That skeleton contains most of the ancient animal's bones and rises to a height of roughly 12 feet, Burns said.

Burns said the foundation wants to find a bigger interpretive center space in the coming years, where a little theater can be built to explain the highlights of the Missoula floods and the ice ages.

"My dream down the road is to have all the schoolchildren come to this," said Burns of plans for an even bigger visitor center. "And they'll not only learn about where this landscape came from — the great floods — but also what animals lived here during that period of time, the sizes of them … (and) who lived here."

The Ice Age Floods National Geologic Trail, designated in 2009, is the first national geologic trail in the United States. It's been largely conceptual up to this point, but boosters hope the designation of its first visitor center in Tualatin will mark the next phase in its development.PMG PHOTO: RAY PITZ - Scott Burns, a PSU professor emeritus of geology, and Linda Moholt, a member of the Tualatin Ice Age Foundation board, discuss plans for the Ice Age Floods National Geologic Trail temporary visitors center.


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