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In 1982, Baugh made his first pilgrimage to Glen Rose. He says that he and a group of scientists and lay people began doing their own excavations on private property along the Paluxy. Baugh directed the group as they removed shelves of limestone from along the river banks. They found a series of dinosaur tracks, which they followed for a few days. Baugh says it was rough going.
"The footprints were en situ," Baugh says, carefully spelling out the word, though incorrectly. "It's a Latin term meaning the original context. This is very important, because there can be various impressions in rock that can have various origins. En situ excavation does not simply interpret what is on the surface, which might be opened to contamination, but it removes a shelf layer of rock and then examines what is underneath in the undisturbed context."
The method of in situ excavation is sound, even if Baugh's spelling is not. If the focus of the investigation is to make casts and photographs of tracks, in situ excavation is one of the best ways to go about it, says Dr. Ernest Lundelius, a professor of geology at the University of Texas-Austin.
Baugh's team spent about a week on the river bed, digging up dinosaur tracks and covering nearly 100 feet of ground. Baugh says he wanted to stop the excavation three times. He hadn't come across anything remotely connected with humanity. But each time, his team pushed him on, he says.
Then he found it. Baugh and his assistants had uncovered one last slab of rock. Baugh says he was carrying out the delicate task of cleaning away gunk and debris when he realized he was looking at a perfect human footprint. The discovery transformed Baugh in one day from a lukewarm "theist" to a boiling hot creationist, he says.
"It blew my mind. My explanation for my origins had been blown. If man and dinosaur had existed contemporaneously in the fossil record, that meant that the whole fossil record had to be recent in origin," he says. "I had to examine my own philosophical posture. That was traumatic. It was exhilarating, but traumatic."
But Baugh wasn't too overcome with excitement to see opportunity. He immediately called a press conference, asking reporters to come watch as he and his team excavated more human and dinosaur tracks. Hordes of the devout and skeptical came to view the finds. In pictures, documented in his book Dinosaur: Scientific Evidence that Dinosaurs and Men Walked Together, Baugh shows the footprints uncovered right in front of the media. The photos depict a series of elongated, mud-filled blobs.
Baugh and his team took photographs and made casts and drawings of the footprints. The controversial find brought the fledgling creationist a certain amount of renown. "They set up eddy tides of disturbance worldwide," Baugh boasts. "For instance, people at Harvard, Yale, UCLA--they know who I am. And most of them don't like me too well.
"But that doesn't bother me in the least," he adds. "I am not in a popularity contest. I am in a search for the truth."
The footprints also left an indelible stamp on Baugh. He had never intended to stay in Glen Rose permanently and had planned to return to the Midwest to run his small Bible college. But the footprints put him on a different path, and he realized his future lay in Glen Rose. So in 1985, he pulled up stakes and moved from Missouri to Texas.
"It was obvious I couldn't forget it," Baugh says of his life-changing discovery. "I realized that someone had to follow the course to its logical conclusion. So rather than ask someone else to pay the price, I knew that I must."
A few months after moving to Glen Rose, Baugh set up the Creation Evidences Museum in a 110-year-old log cabin. "Evidence Here!" proclaimed the museum's hand-painted sign, which depicted man and dinosaur cavorting in Flintstonian harmony. The museum showed off the growing body of evidence Baugh and other creationists were digging up in the Glen Rose area, and it also served as a place where "scholarly and academic work could be conducted," Baugh says.
The museum grew steadily. Baugh moved it from the log cabin to the doublewide trailer three years ago, though it's still far too small to handle all of the items he's collected. The sign is still there, as is a large cylindrical tube beside the trailer. This, Baugh says, will eventually become a biosphere big enough to accommodate plants as well as small mammals. Baugh first mentioned the project in a Dallas Morning News story in 1986. The tube still sits today, empty and rusting.
Baugh's homespun museum is the physical and philosophical opposite of the state's take on the dinosaur tale. Dinosaur Valley State Park was opened in the 1960s to preserve and showcase the dinosaur tracks being uncovered along the Paluxy. The park, which sits about a mile down the road from Baugh's museum, covers more than 1,000 acres and includes campgrounds, hiking trails, and places to walk among the dinosaur tracks on the riverbed.
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