Dinosaur Footprints, Holyoke MA
Last week I went to Holyoke, MA to look at some dinosaur footprints in the wild. These tracks aren’t fenced in or protected. They are just right on a slab of sandstone. The dinosaurs stepped on the ground here when the stone was sand, and left impressions. Then over the course of millions of years, the sand was subjected to fluids depositing crystals of natural cement (in this case, probably a silicate, but I’m not positive), which over time hardened and turned the sand to stone.
The best time to see these prints is under the conditions I have photographed here: a day after some rain. Most of the sandstone is dry at this point, but there is a little water puddled in some of the prints, which makes locating them easier. They can be tricky to find at first, since there are no specific markers.
The footprints are really cool, but visitors should think before taking impressions with plaster or anything that will damage them. The sandstone is old and can be brittle. Once these footprints are gone, they will never come back. Let’s keep the site for future generations to see.
These prints are right next to the road, MA Rte 5. There is a culvert right next to the slab of sandstone, a big pipe that goes under the road, and you can see the stream that flows from it in one of the pictures above. It looks pretty, but one danger is that the more vegetation is stripped in the area, and the more paving that happens, the more water will come through that pipe. There just isn’t enough plantlife to slow down that flow of water, and with flooding, which will increase in future years, fast rushing water will at some point begin to flow over the sandstone that has the footprints on them. Eventually, these footprints will wear away, erasing signs that these creatures existed here. The past can hold clues to how the planet works, and how we can predict patterns for the future. But…the future mankind is creating will erase that past, making those lessons impossible to learn.
You can see the Connecticut river from the site, and can walk down almost to the river (you’re not supposed to cross the railroad tracks that are between the woods and the river).
Here is some more info about this site: