A hallway filled with exhibits of minerals, fossils and historical photos attracts rockhounds and other lovers of all things geological to Western Washington University.
The free display is on the main floor of the Environmental Studies Center. When Western is in session, the public can view the exhibits from 7 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. weekdays, 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays and 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sundays. During breaks between quarters, it's open 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays only.
Inside you'll see fossils of ancient plants and animals, including some that inhabited this corner of the world millions of years ago. You'll also see opals, crystals, jade and numerous other samples. To test your knowledge, several shelves hold small rocks; guess what one is, then flip a small wooden cover to learn the correct name.
Photos on display show women in old mining camps, the Yukon gold rush, and gold mining on Mount Larrabee in the early 1900s. There's also a topographical model of Sehome Arboretum and vicinity, and a larger model of Lake Whatcom detailing its shoreline and underwater contours.
For many people, the star attraction is just inside the main door; the fossil track of a Diatryma, a six-foot-tall flightless bird that traipsed the region's rivers 50 million years ago. The three-toed footprint, which measures 10 by 11 inches, was found three years ago preserved on a large sandstone slab after a massive landslide northeast of Deming.
Reach DEAN KAHN at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 715-2291.