Thursday, January 3, 2019

A Curious Mind

Geologist at work
Isaac Beckley Werner had such a curious mind.  Not only was he observant about things around him, he exercised his curiosity by recording what he saw in his daily journal so that he could document events or compare changes in the seasons and his crops from year to year.  His love for learning is also apparent from his many books and the wide variety of topics his library contained.

One particularly interesting entry in his journal involved his first trip to Sun City to market potatoes.  The soil in that area was too rocky and shallow to raise potatoes, so those living there were good customers, and he generally received a better price for his potatoes in that community.  The long, hard trips were worth it.

On one of those trips, he paid close attention to the terrain and recorded in his journal how he believed the valleys and gullies were formed over centuries.  He wrote like a geologist, evidencing his reading on soil erosion and the impact of freezing and water and the sculpting of the surface of the land over eons.

Really a realistic sculpture
This brings me to the subject of this week's blog, the Sternberg Museum of Natural History in Hays, Kansas.  How Isaac would have loved wandering through the 10,000 square foot walk-through diorama depicting what the region of Kansas was like at the end of the Age of Dinosaurs.  The depiction of creatures of that era, drawn on the walls and presented in full scale animated models, stimulate visitors' imaginations to almost feel as if they have been transported back in time to experience what it must have been like.  Isaac would surely have loved the fossils, including the famous "fish-within-a-fish" in the permanent display.

Famous 'Fish-Within-a Fish Fossil
Isaac Werner was definitely the sort of person whose mind was eager to learn about a broad spectrum of subjects, and it was his nature to enjoy sharing what he learned.  That desire is clear in the fact that he was a popular lecturer at local meetings of farmers seeking new ways to survive on their claims.  It was also apparent in his writing for populist newspapers and  journals, as well as sharing his farming experiments utilizing different seed varieties and altering planting depths and distances between rows to see what worked best.  He was eager to share descriptions of tools he invented or modified to be more suited to local soils.  His mind was a sponge,  soaking up information from his reading, his observations of neighbors' methods (both their successful and failing efforts), and his own experiments.  How he would have loved visiting the Sternberg Museum.


Sternberg Mural & Animated Model

Remember, you can click on the images to enlarge them, and you can read more about the museum at or call for their hours at 785/628-4286.

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