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I'm digging this See Jane Dig! research more than I believed possible. In the process, I made a new Harding County paleontologist friend.

Hiram standing beside a casting of the head of Stan, a T-Rex found in Harding County. The casting is housed in the Buffalo, South Dakota Schoolhouse Museum. Stan is one of the most complete T-Rex skeletons found to date.

I’m digging this See Jane Dig! research more than I thought possible. Maybe you caught that in previous posts here and here. But last week, my excitement rose to new heights during a phone call with an honest-to-goodness paleontologist. Not just any paleontologist, but one who lives in Harding County, the model for the setting of the West River Mysteries.

I found him by emailing the younger sister of a former student. Had we not moved back to Iowa in 1985, she would have been my student the next fall. She still lives in the area, and I asked her who could pinpoint where the dinosaur remains mentioned in different newspaper clippings had been found. She pointed me toward the paleontologist.


My next step was to make a list of the digs in question based on the information in the clippings. The step after that was to study the county map the parent of another former student sent a while back. I wanted to get my bearings about where the digs might have been located before picking up the phone. The final step was to screw up the courage to pick up the phone and call.

That was the hardest part. It was also the coolest part.

After I introduced myself as a former Harding County resident and dropped the names of kids I’d taught (Who knew being a school teacher could be such a door opener?), he answered my questions. He also told story after story while I circled things on the map and scribbled notes. One of his stories confirmed the plausibility of what I hope will be the major conflict in See Jane Dig!

Now there was a true-to-life reasons for the book’s bad guys to do bad guy things.

Before our call ended, he told me where his office is in Buffalo. I said my husband and I might visit him next summer when we go to Harding County. He didn’t say no. In fact, he said he’d like that.¬†Which is the ultimate reason I’m digging this See Jane Dig! research.

I have a new Harding County friend.