Rev. Arthur Lakes

Reverend Arthur Lakes: Geologist, Professor, Minister

Born in 1844 in the County of Somerset in western England, Arthur Lakes was educated at Oxford University, where he became fascinated by one of the great early collections of fossil reptiles (including dinosaurs). At that time natural history was usually studied only by the independently wealthy, so Arthur studied at Queens College, Oxford, until 1865, when he emigrated to Canada. There he briefly taught school, and later ended up at Jarvis Hall Collegiate School in Golden, Colorado. He first taught English and Latin, but when a school of mines opened as part of Jarvis Hall in 1870 he started to teach writing and drawing. In 1874, he took up preaching in several foothills towns, and is listed in the 1877-78 Morrison Directories as the town’s Episcopal minister.

A professor at the Colorado School of Mines, Lakes is best remembered for discovering the Jurassic dinosaurs at Morrison in 1877. The year 2005 was the 125th anniversary of his discovery of the first-known specimens of Stegosaurus, Apatosaurus, and Diplodocus, as well as a specimen of Allosaurus. Arthur Lakes was 33 years old when he found the Morrison dinosaur bones. He discovered dinosaurs at ten sites along the hogback (now known as Dinosaur Ridge), and made arrangements with O.C. Marsh of the Peabody Museum of Natural History (Yale College, now Yale University).

Lakes worked the quarries from April 1877 to May 1879, when he went to Como Bluff, Wyoming, at Marsh’s request. During this work, he wrote many letters to his employer, which provide historical detail on the excavations at Morrison, as well as sketches of the operations. Excerpts of the letters are compiled in a recent publication (Hunt et al., 2002). In 1880, Lakes returned from Como Bluff and from 1882 to 1891 he was a professor of geology at Colorado School of Mines (whose library is named after him).

In addition to his teaching role at the School of Mines, he also founded the Geology Museum there and established its mineral collection; he wrote numerous technical papers on the geologic resources of the Front Range and Jefferson Co. The Arthur Lakes Library on the School of Mines campus recognizes his career-long contributions to that institution.

Lakes was a distinguished, and much published, economic geologist. Later, he became a very successful mining engineering consultant and was author and editor of Mines and Minerals from 1895 to 1904. In 1905, he retired and moved to British Columbia to join his son. There he died on November 21st, 1917.

Rev. Arthur Lakes was elected to the Jefferson County Hall of Fame in 2005.

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