|The Plaine Musuem (really the Field Museum in Chicago)|
At first he thought it might be the bone of an ordinary animal, but soon Dr. Plaine uncovered a mighty tusk. The doctor recruited some local farmers to help him dig up the rest of the bones, uncovering the skeleton of a mastodon, an ancient elephant-like creature that roamed the United States until about 10,000 years ago.
Not finding any suitable facilities willing to take the exhumed skeleton, Dr. Plaine decided to use his family inheritance to create a new institution of learning in his hometown of Rampart. At the time it was called only the Rampart Center for Natural Sciences. Dr. Plaine recruited some of the greatest scientific minds in the world to work for his new institution, which he promised would be dedicated to providing knowledge to all the peoples of Rampart and the world.
As the center's need for funding began to outstrip what Dr. Plaine had in his bank account, he decided to turn part of the center into a museum. There for only a penny--a lot of money in those days--a person could see wonders like the mastodon Dr. Plaine had discovered as well as learning about exotic plants and animals from every inhabited continent in the world.
By the time of his death in 1905, the museum had become a mainstay of Rampart society. A new structure was built to house it and in 1910 the Plaine Museum of Natural History was officially launched. Its primary exhibit remained the mastodon skeleton, which was set in the main gallery and renamed "Alex" in honor of the late Dr. Plaine.
|Alex the mastodon, circa 1910|
Carrying on Dr. Plaine's work, the Plaine Museum continues to attract some of the most brilliant minds of the scientific community to research every facet of the natural sciences. Throughout its history, Plaine Museum scientists have won a total of thirteen Nobel Prizes and have made thousands of patented discoveries that benefit the lives of ordinary people every day.
Suffice it to say, Dr. Plaine would be proud of the institution he began so long ago.
(Fun Fact: The source of Alex the mastodon is a combination of two things. First, the famous T-Rex Sue in the Field Museum. Second, in Auburn Hills, Michigan there's a walking/bike trail I use sometimes where they found a mastodon years ago.)
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