Discovery of 64 Million Year Old Fossils

ICON’s Associate Principal Troy Carmann and family make a 64 million year old discovery… fossils in their sandbox! While digging a sand box in their back yard, Troy Carmann and sons found 64 million year old fossils.

When Grant pointed out the fossils, Troy at first didn’t believe what was so obvious to his young son. “I just thought, yeah fossils, it was so hot and the ground was getting so hard to dig, I went ahead and got the electric jack hammer out.” Troy has seen many excavations as a result of his design work in drainage and flood control, but never thought that his own backyard could literally contain a treasure trove of the earth’s history.

Luckily, another ICON engineer, Aaron Bousselot and his wife Jen showed up with beer and the sand box excavation slowed down. Jen has a PhD in Horticulture and formerly served as the Douglas County extenion agent. Jen knows her plants! She and Aaron quickly recognized that the bedrock Troy was trying to blast through just might contain something significant.

At Aaron’s and Jen’s urging, Troy brought a small sampling of the fossils into ICON’s office to show off the hard work from his backyard. Troy knew that the person that would be the most interested would be ICON’s President, Penn Gildersleeve. According to Troy, he figured that Penn is the closest thing ICON has to being an actual fossil himself! In reality, Penn is somewhat of an amateur paleontologist. When he was much younger, he worked several summers on excavations in both archaeology and paleontology through a museum associated with Idaho State University. He is currently taking certification classes in Paleontology from the Denver Museum of Nature and Science (DMNS).

The next day, Penn took the sampling of fossils to the DMNS for further identification. Penn had been studying the geology and ancient land forms of the Castle Rock area in a class he was taking being taught by Bob Raynolds, PhD, research associate with the DMNS Earth Sciences Department. Dr. Raynolds showed the fossils to his associates at the museum, and the importance of what Troy had found was quickly recognized. We were all astounded by the results.

Troy’s backyard find was attributed to the ancient Castle Rock Rain Forest which thrived in the Denver basin right after an asteroid strike near Cancun, Mexico some 64.1 million years ago. It is believed that this asteroid collision likely resulted in, or at least contributed to the extinction of the dinosaurs.
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Branter Gulch Pedestrian Bridge Project

Branter Bridge Project Rendering

Branter Bridge Project Rendering

The Branter Gulch Pedestrian Bridge Project began as an idea of the Wright Farms Metropolitan District (the “District”) to serve as a solution to the safety problem arising from the students crossing Brantner Gulch and Holly Street while walking to and from school. To help study the feasibility of a pedestrian bridge across the gulch, the District submitted the project to the Colorado School of Mines for use as a senior project for graduating engineering students. Because the results of the senior project were positive and showed a real benefit to the community, the District hired ICON Engineering to prepare preliminary plans and sought open space grant funding from Adams County. Impressed with the project and recognizing the need to solve the safety concerns, the Adams County Board of County Commissioners awarded over $250,000 in open space funds to the District to help build the bridge.

To date, ICON and the District have been working diligently to finalize design plans, obtain the necessary permits, ensure the wetlands in the gulch are protected, and to create a bridge that is an asset to the local community and all users of the Adams County and City of Thornton regional trail system.

Currently, the District expects to complete construction in the Spring of 2012. If you have any questions, please contact the Wright Farms Metropolitan District at (720) 560-1984 or visit the District’s webpage at

More Information to follow…….