By Catherine Ellerton
Contributing Writer 

Celebrating 70 years of geological field studies at IU field station


August 7, 2019

A few of the alumni and staff celebrating Indiana Universities Geological Field Station's 70th Anniversary. Photo by Catherine Ellerton

Approximately 125 alumni returned to the Indiana University Geological Field Station in the Tobacco Root Mountains to celebrate 70 years of exploring this diverse geological site. In 1948 Charles Deiss began the field camp because "the region offers more extensive and varied geologic phenomena than any area of equal size in the United States." Since 1950, over 5,000 students from over 200 colleges and universities have enrolled in this course and they came back together from Aug. 2 through 4th to celebrate together.

A Geologic Field Trip to Pole Canyon, a cultural trip to Butte, a tour of the World of Mining Museum's underground tour on Friday and on Saturday a cultural trip to Bozeman and a special Behind the Scenes Tour at the Museum of the Rockies were part of a very active two day schedule. Orvil White, from upstate New York, was a student in 2004 at 54 years of age. He earned his Masters and PHD at Indiana University in Curriculum and Instruction with a minor in Geology when he came to Montana to take part in this field camp. He stated that the Museum of the Rockies hosts the only confirmed female T-Rex which is determined by the soft tissues in the bone. "She" was name B-Rex after the founder.

Mary Iverson was the Graduate Student Secretary at Indiana University who retired in December 2013 and came to re-new old friendships of the students she had known for 50 years. Bruce Douglas who is the Academic Director at the Bloomington Facility for the past 34 years took a moment to discuss the many tours and events scheduled for the weekend which included a Barbeque Pig Roast to thank the local ranchers for their cooperation and acceptance. Ruth Drappo was busy the whole weekend video tapping the stories of former students.

Barby Lee from Southern California shared that she had attended Indiana University in 1977. She had a Masters in Geophysics and for five years was in the oil business. She then became a pilot and commercial instructor. Barby earned a Masters in Space Studies and had an interview in 1987 to be a member of the astronaut program. She stated that what she learned at the Field Station shaped the rest of her life. "It was fun to be back!"

Lee Suttner, a professor at Indiana University was the former Director of the Field Station from 1980 to the late 1990s stated that the Classroom Building had been renamed the Lee and Virginia Suttner Class Room Building. Eighty years young Diane Caldwell from Deer Lodge was celebrating her tenth season as the cook for the summer courses. She stated that they are always looking for local helpers. Any interested person can contact 287-3323 for further information.

The year-round manager of the facility, Mark Toensing, was busy keeping everything running smoothly and stated that the Jefferson Valley Search and Rescue organization would be the next group in with a Man Tracking Course. Following that will be a Labor Day workshop for anyone who has lost someone dear to them. Following the night's dinner, the group headed to the basketball court to 'take a telescopic tour of the night sky.'

Mapping in Pole Canyon – circa 1960


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