Mesalands Community College’s Dinosaur Museum and Natural Science Laboratory

Mesalands Community College’s Dinosaur Museum opened in the spring of 2000. The museum is designed around the region’s rich heritage as one of the earth’s premier deposits of fossilized ancient life. At the opening the College began the only associate of Arts degree in Palaeontology in the United States and they also opened their foundry to making bronze casts of dinosaur skeletons. The museum holds the world’s largest collection of bronze skeletons, fossils and replicas of prehistoric creatures.

The museum is located in a building that was once a grocery store. The main exhibit hall houses replicated and original fossils, from tiny footprint casts to a 40-foot-long skeleton of a Torvosaurus, a rare carnivore that is related to Tyrannosaurus rex. Recently, the museum  has received donations to augment their collection – most recently, they received a collection of minerals and fossils from Howard Shanks.  A spacious, well-equipped paleontology/geology laboratory (with a large storage area for collections not on exhibit but available for study), a classroom and offices are also located the museum. A large observation window in the laboratory allows visitors to observe students and staff preparing specimens.

Since 2005, its students have discovered four new dinosaur species within 23 miles of Tucumcari; you can see these displayed at the museum. Every summer, one-week field courses are offered to the public (these can be customized for special-interest groups). School tours can be scheduled throughout the year. There is also a children’s area, “Kid’s Digs,” where Bootz, the rodeo dinosaur, lives and can be ridden as part of the children’s play.

The museum’s gift shop sells scientific and educational books, rocks and minerals, fossils, clothing, games, teaching aids, gift items and souvenirs and more.

 

Address: 222 East Laughlin Street, Tucumcari, NM 88401
Phone: 575-461-3466
Hours: Winter (Labor Day through February): Tuesday through Saturday, 12:00 pm to 5:00 p.m. Summer (March through Labor Day): Tuesday through Saturday, 10:00 am – 6:00 pm (Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day.)
Website: http://www.mesalands.edu/community/dinosaur-museum/
Admission: Adults, $6.50. Children 5 to 11, $4.00. Children under 5, free. Seniors 65 and over, $5.50.

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Tucumcari Historical Society and Research Center

Tucumcari was originally a railroad construction camp, called Ragtown, for the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad. The town name was changed to Tucumcari in 1908 – taking the name of Tucumcari Mountain, a regional landmark.  It became a ranching center because of the railroad lines coming  into the town. When the famous Route 66 was built, Tucumcari became famous as a stopping point largely because of their billboard advertisements that proclaimed, “Tucumcari Tonight.” The building of the Interstate System and I40 has caused the decline in tourism as it is easy to whiz past Tucumcari on the highway. It is worth a stop.

Tucumcari-MuseumThe Tucumcari Historical Museum and Research Center is housed in a three-story brick building dating from 1903 that originally served as the town’s first public school. The museum and research center occupy an entire city block with several buildings and various vehicles. The grounds are landscaped with native plants, and you will find many vehicles, including a caboose, a F100 Vietnam-era jet, a chuck wagon, a doctor’s buggy, and an adobe horno where bread is baked twice a year.

The museum is chock-a-block with artifacts from all over Quay County, including rocks, fossils, and archaeological finds, ranching and farm items, an old moonshine still, and an iron lung. There is also an exhibit about Route 66 and its Tucumcari/Quay County history.

Address: 416 South Adams Street, Tucumcari, NM 88401
Phone:    575-461-4201
Email:     museum@cityoftucumcari.com
Hours:    Tuesday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Admission: Adults, $2.50; children 6 to 15, $0.75.

New Mexico Route 66 Museum

Tucumcari is also home to an emerging museum devoted to Route 66 and its history and association with Tucumcari and New Mexico. The Museum is located in the back of the parking lot for the Tucumcari Convention Center. The exhibits include vintage cars, gas pumps, neon signs, and photographs.

Address: 1500 Highway 66, Tucumcari, NM 88401
Hours:     9:00 am – 2:00 pm, Monday – Friday
Websitehttp://www.nmrt66museum.org/
Admission: Free, Donations accepted.