So, tariffs reigned supreme in the media this past week, pitting congress against the white house yet again. Actually, the White House, itself, is divided in result of this latest move- I believe the chief economic advisor said ‘hasta la vista’ to Trump a few days ago.
Is the economy going to tank or will the US steel and aluminum industries start booming again? Hell, I don’t know, not remotely qualified to answer those questions. However, I do know where steel and aluminum originate. That’s right, before they are finished in a factory they start from good old mother earth. So in celebration of yet another Trump political fiasco, I figured I’d visit the Weiss Earth Science Museum at the UW-Fox Valley campus.
I know, the Paris Climate Accord would seem a better angle at current affairs. The climate accord is a climate driven pact, and the Weiss Earth Science Museum is a mineralogical museum, however. So, minerals taken from the earth, to create and manufacture common goods, seemed a more relevant topic.
As I reach the gift shop/reception desk, I’m stunned. The price of the museum, besides one other, is the cheapest Museum I’ve visited. The fee for an adult is an affordable three dollars. Immediately, I start considering the wisdom of driving thirty minutes to visit this tiny place. Why is it so cheap?
As I enter, I spy some underwhelming fossils in rock. I wonder if that’s the highlights of this small collection. Plus, I recall the receptionist’s words as I paid my two dollars, “We are doing some remodeling. So, there are glass cases strewn about-please excuse our mess.” She recited these words in a businesslike fashion, without a smile. I feel like I’ve visited a family member when their house is in disarray, border line intrusion.
Yet, I turn a corner and my anxiety melts away. Before me lie the most prolific geological specimens one could hope to retrieve from the earth’s crust. Dinosaur skulls and a femur, the latter I’m encouraged to touch, adorn a dark corner. My hand glides over the smooth femur, feeling like light sanded wood. Unbelievably, 65 million years ago this was propelling a biological machine, totally unaware that one day it would be an interesting artifact.
Also, along with the Dinosaur bones, I’m captivated by a replicated nest with actual dinosaur eggs. The species has been Identified after fossilized embryo’s were detected inside the eggs. That’s simply amazing.
I leave the Dinosaur eggs behind and peruse a brief snippet on mining. Included in this bit, copper mines Native Americans conceived are mentioned. Of course, in Wisconsin, one must know the reason for our nick name. No, I don’t mean ‘America’s Dairy land’, I mean ‘the Badger State’.
Wisconsin’s Pioneers didn’t happen upon herds of ill-tempered black, grey and white creatures and label Wisconsin accordingly. Actually, miners of lead were very prominent in the pioneer days. These miners were known as badgers and pride in that heritage earned the State’s Identity, which endures today as the nickname of the UW’s flagship school in Madison.
After the mining exhibit, I find a time line, a brief sketch of 2.5 billion years of geological evolution. The time line begins with the Pre Cambrian era and works its way towards the Ice Age. There’s the basic layout of the earth at a given time frame, then information specific to Wisconsin. As evidence of the claims the giant placards are making, Mastodon tusks, fossils and more lie with the appropriate era. I find it interesting and mindboggling to realize Wisconsin was once underneath a shallow sea, located near the equator.
I end the visit with a discovery of rocks and minerals, cased in glass and begging observation. Its dark in here, and the geological specimens aren’t dull. They shimmer and sparkle in the light of the cases. Amethyst, fluorite, pyrite and more ignites my imagination, guessing what just might lie under my feet.
There are other small exhibits to enjoy, like one on ground water. As I said, the museum is small and I’m finished in about half an hour. I enjoyed my time and felt that I was both entertained and informed. I’ve jostled my memory banks and dusted off that grade school geology class education. Of course, with the aide of exhibits like actual Dinosaur bones, relearning is simply fun.
The UW-Fox Valley Campus is located in Menasha. If you’re in the fox cities area and looking for a cheap way to kill time, I would suggest this place. It screams school boy destination, having cool rocks and dinosaur bones. Not to mention, a few other unidentified artifacts incited the word ‘Cool’ to be uttered from my own mouth.
Considering the price, which I believe is actually cheaper than a Big Mac at McDonald’s, you’re really not losing much if you disagree with my sentiments. However, I think you’ll agree that there are some rather interesting and cool artifacts to see.
Adults $3.00 Seniors and teens $2.00 children 3-12 1.00 and under 3 are free.