|Edward Drinker Cope of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania|
Cope soon responded to Lucas’s letter about the bone he had found in Garden Park. They struck up a deal in which Lucas would send bones to Cope in Philadelphia for 10 ¢ per pound of fossilized material.3
Marsh, on the other hand, had not responded to Lucas’s letter at all. In fact, Marsh had ignored reports from two other men telling of giant dinosaur bones in Colorado. In the same year Lucas began finding bones near Cañon City, a naturalist named Lakes uncovered some enormous fossils near Morrison. David Baldwin, an employee of Marsh’s who had been collecting bones in New Mexico, was from Cañon City and had told Marsh earlier of dinosaur bones being sold in curio shops as petrified wood. Only when Lakes, frustrated by the lack of reply from Marsh, sent a box of bones to Cope did Marsh become interested in the giant dinosaurs coming out of Colorado.3
Marsh and Cope had been locked in a bitter rivalry for years. They raced to collect more fossils and identify more ancient species than the other, and heavily criticized each other in scientific journals and amongst colleagues. Their career long enmity would eventually be known as “the Bone Wars,” which lasted until Cope’s death in 1897. Until 1877, however, the feud had not extended to dinosaurs. In the 1870s dinosaurs were not widely known to the public as they are now. Even among scientists, dinosaurs were considered little more than rare oddities and very few people at the time were concerned with them. Marsh had been primarily interested in ancient mammals and birds, which was probably the reason why he was initially so unenthusiastic about the reports of dinosaurs he was receiving from Colorado.3
|Othniel Charles Marsh of the Yale Peabody Museum in New Haven, Connecticut.|
The bones from Morrison, and especially Lakes’s action of sending them to both Marsh and Cope, changed all of this. Marsh was now threatened with Cope gaining ground in a new area of paleontology and became determined to obtain as many dinosaur bones as possible. The bones coming out of Morrison and Cañon City were huge, and suggested the presence of animals bigger than any ever heard of on land. Hearing that Cope was now getting bones out of Cañon City, Marsh sent his employee Benjamin Franklin Mudge out to investigate.3
Shortly after arriving in Cañon City in 1877, Mudge managed to gain access to the storeroom where Lucas was keeping the collected bones before sending them to Cope. Mudge sent brief descriptions of the specimens to Marsh before seeking out Oramel Lucas himself. He tried to convince Lucas to break his contract with Cope and instead send bones to Marsh. Oramel refused to send to Marsh any of the large material he had collected. He did, however, send Marsh some of the smaller bones, including the remains of a Nanosaurus.2 Mudge ended up spending most of his time in Cañon City helping a farmer named Marshall P. Felch, who began a quarry in 1877 about a mile away from Lucas’s and excavated dinosaur bones for Marsh.
The Felches and the Lucases clearly communicated with each other, as Felch mentioned talking to them in his letters to Marsh. Early references to Lucas are fairly neutral in Felch’s letters, but later interactions between the two families may not have all been on the best terms. For example, Felch talks of fending off the Lucases from the quarry in a letter to Marsh.4