Laurie E. Jasinski, author of Dinosaur Highway: A History of Dinosaur Valley State Park, visited the park Saturday afternoon to sign copies of her book.
Jasinski began working on the book in 2004 when she was commissioned by the Texas Parks and Wildlife to start a history of the state park.
Through interviews with local residents and historians such as Dorothy Leach and Novella Wilson, Jasinski wove together the vivid history of prehistoric Somervell County and its residents 100 million years ago.
Jasinski was drawn to the area as a child after finding a photograph of dinosaur tracks her grandfather Joe Sanders took.
“Glen Rose has such a rich history from petrified wood to magnetic healers, and of course, dinosaurs,” Jasinski said. “It just seemed like it would be a great subject for a book.”
Although Jasinski’s book begins millions of years ago, she was thrilled to watch the local history continue to develop as she worked on the book. She recalled that the Paluxysaurus, whose tracks can be found at the park, was officially named while she was writing Dinosaur Highway. And the park developed a new trail before she finished the book.
“For a small town, a lot of things have happened in the history of Glen Rose,” Jasinski said. “But some of the best stuff was getting to know the people and hearing them relive childhood memories.”
One of the highlights of all her research was finding an original article about George Adams’ discovery of the dinosaur tracks. Jasinski said she came across a lot of conflicting information about when the tracks were first found, from 1908 to 1910. But she finally found an original newspaper article in an old Cleburne paper dated 1909.
“And there it was - the documentation of George Adams,” Jasinski said.
The article talked about a huge flood in the area the year before and perhaps the rush of water was what finally uncovered the priceless glimpse into history.
“It was really neat,” Jasinski said.
She said the controversial human footprint also came up during her research. She felt the discovery was interesting and part of the history of the park, regardless of the age or authenticity of the prints, and she did her best to simply report the facts about the prints.
Of course, theory abounds when it comes to dinosaurs. And in the back of the book, Jasinski offers her own interpretation on a set of Acrocanthosaurus trailing Paluxysaurus tracks.
“In the back of the book is a lengthy ballad about the history of the tracks,” Jasinski said.
Most theories say the carnivorous Acrocanthosaurus was hunting and attacking the larger dino.
“Maybe they were waltzing,” she said.
Jasinski, who is also a musician, sat down with her brother Larry and put the ballad to music. The Dinosaur Waltz is a separate companion to the book.
Dinosaur Highway is published by TCU Press and is available on their Web site, at the Dinosaur Valley State Park, the Somervell County Historical Commission in Glen Rose and Storiebook Café near downtown Glen Rose.