The drought in Texas has revealed two tremendous historic discoveries. The Neches River has yielded a long-forgotten relic of history as its waters receded to unusually low levels. Simultaneously, the drought-stricken Dinosaur Valley State Park has unveiled ancient secrets hidden for millions of years beneath its riverbed as well as a long-lost ship from World War I.
The Neches River near Beaumont had very low water levels last week, and this led to a surprising discovery. The remains of a huge wooden cargo ship from World War I were found. This ship was almost 300 feet long and had been sitting at the river’s bottom for almost 100 years. People had mostly forgotten about it until something interesting happened on social media. Susan Kilcrease, who owns the Ice House Museum in Silsbee, noticed the river was so low and got curious about what might be under the water. She talked about it on Facebook, asking people who know the river well to keep an eye out for anything that might be revealed.
A bunch of folks responded with cool things they found. One person found an old paddle that looked kind of rough and had an unknown origin. Another person found a group of logs with marks on them. Back in the 1800s, these logs were floated down the river, and the marks showed which timber companies should be paid for the wood. But the big discovery was made by a local guy named Bill Milner. He’s really familiar with the river and knows it really well. When the river became so shallow that it was only knee-deep, he saw the remains of the ship and could actually walk around on it.
There’s also been a drought in Texas, and this has led to another cool find. Dinosaur tracks that are about 113 million years old were uncovered in Dinosaur Valley State Park. Normally, these tracks are covered by the Paluxy River, and the last time people could see them was in 2000. Most of the tracks were left by a meat-eating dinosaur called Acrocanthosaurus. These dinosaurs lived a very long time ago, between 115 to 105 million years ago, during the Early Cretaceous period. They walked on two legs and had three-toed feet with claws. They were really heavy, up to 7 tons, and stood about 15 feet tall.
The tracks that were just revealed are known as the “Lone Ranger trackway.” They come from one dinosaur and there are about 140 tracks in total. When the river water went away, around 60 of these tracks became visible. There are also tracks from another dinosaur called Sauroposeidon. This one was huge, about 60 feet tall and weighing 44 tons. It’s amazing what can show up when the water goes down!
“These footprints are really amazing because they’re deep,” said Louis Jacobs, a scientist who studies ancient animals at Southern Methodist University. He explained to a reporter from the New York Times, April Rubin, that you can even see the toenails on these footprints. There’s not just one type of footprint, there are many different kinds, and there are a whole bunch of them.”