Havre Daily News
A recent visit to Rudyard by some intergalactic stars was carried off without a hitch or any fanfare.
Star Wars director George Lucas, Olympic figure skating gold medalist Dorothy Hamill, Iditarod winner Susan Butcher and "Jurassic Park III" director Joe Johnston were among special guests paleontologist Jack Horner took to a special location - a Museum of the Rockies dinosaur dig north of Rudyard. The visitors were in town Aug. 13-17.
Locals were asked to keep a tight lid on the secret, and apparently everybody in the town of about 500 complied.
"The people in Rudyard are very, very friendly, and I think they very much enjoy having us there and we just have a generally good time there," said Horner, who grew up in Shelby.
He has brought guests to the site several times in the past six years. Each summer Horner hosts Museum of the Rockies donors, prospective donors and special guests at an active dig.
Horner has said that the Rudyard site is one of his favorites because of its contributions to science. Though it does not contain a lot of full dinosaur skeletons, bone fragments from a variety of ancient creatures yield plenty of information about the ecology of the area 75 million years ago.
It's also a good place to bring guests because the badlands in the area are teeming with ancient bones. On the most recent trip, everybody was able to find something notable while walking around the sand castle towers of the badlands, Horner said.
At night, guests enjoy a campfire and talk about shared interests, Horner said.
Horner met his guests through Academy of Achievement, an organization that introduces youths to notables who've made accomplishments in a variety of fields. Horner is an academy member.
Talk often turned to movie making, said Horner, an adviser to the Jurassic movies. The camp looked out over farmland divided by dramatic moon-colored coulees, and the trip yielded a movie idea he declined to describe.
Visitors enjoyed some local pastimes, like pitching horseshoes, and an Aug. 15 trip the K-Lines bowling alley in Rudyard.
"It's a good thing not very many people were watching," Horner joked.
A few heads were turned, however. Angie Gulick, who works at the bowling alley, was working the Monday afternoon that Horner and his visitors came in.
Gulick said one of the "bone diggers," as people in Rudyard call the paleontologists, alerted her about who was in the alley at the time.
Gulick said she was told not to ask for autographs, but she did watch the progress of the game.
"Some of them did OK," Gulick said. "Jack's a pretty good bowler."
Shirley Kline, mother of K-Lines owners Chris and Dusty Kline, hosted a party for the guests at the alley that included a fish fry.
"It was far out, believe me," Kline said.
She recalls being introduced to them. "I'm just like a little kid in a candy store. I didn't catch the names," she said.
Then Kline was introduced to Hamill.
"I didn't know Dorothy Hamill was going to be here," Kline said. "I said, 'Yeah, the skater,' and she said, 'Yes, I am."'
Kline said everybody had agreed not to bother the guests, but Hamill was willing to pose in photos with Kline and Gulick.
"It was a fun time, but we couldn't tell anybody," Kline said. "They get bombarded so much with celebrity status. We are asked not to say anything and, by golly, we didn't so they'll come again."
Kline said there were about 20 guests in the bowling alley besides the group of about 30 that came with Horner. By the end of the afternoon, everybody had heard who they were.
"Nobody bothered them," Kline said. "That was the nice part."