Saturday, May 22, 1999

A new look at Big Bone Lick

State park's new diorama shows how it was

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        BIG BONE LICK STATE PARK — The mastodons and giant ground sloths that once roamed the area have returned to the salt and sulfur bogs of Big Bone Lick State Park, but this time they're made of Fiberglas.

        Visitors to the park on Ky. 338 in Boone County can now view a diorama depicting a typical bog from the Pleistocene Epoch between 12,000 and 20,000 years ago.

        “We started planning this in April of 1996,” Jim Dickerson, assistant director of planning and design for the Kentucky State Parks and project director for the Big Bone Lick exhibit, said Friday.

        The diorama is part of an interpretive trail that winds from the park's gift shop/ museum to the sulfur spring that has flowed through the area for thousands of years.

        Mr. Dickerson said the diorama was part of a plan started about five years ago for a new, larger museum at the park. The current museum is just a small part of the gift shop.

        The diorama shows one mastodon standing at the edge of the muddy bog, while a second appears to have become stuck in the soft ground and is sinking. A giant ground sloth stands nearby, while two bison are shown lying in the bog and being picked over by vultures. All the animals are depicted life-size.

        Visitors to the park can get a close-up look at the exhibit from a steel-and-wood viewing platform constructed around three sides of the big area. A similar viewing platform has been erected at the nearby sulfur spring along a Discovery Trail.

        Mr. Dickerson explained that all the models were designed and fabricated by Chase Studios in Cedar Creek, Mo.

        “Their people are both artists and scientists, and the animals they design are as close to the real thing as possible,” he said. “The detail is amazing.”

        The trail and exhibits cost $500,000, with $400,000 of that coming from a federal grant and the state funding the remaining amount.

        There are no immediate plans for a new museum, Mr. Dickerson said, because money is not available. But he said the plan is still alive if the money is found to build the museum on a large piece of land just below the diorama.

        The trail will be officially dedicated and opened to the public June 18.


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