Artist helps fossil journey come alive in Port Angeles with Friday talk
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Ray Troll — depicted in the pickup truck's passenger seat — created the scenes in “Cruisin' the Fossil Freeway,” the new exhibit at the Port Angeles Library.

By Diane Urbani de la Paz
Peninsula Daily News

PORT ANGELES — Artist Ray Troll of Ketchikan, Alaska, known for his images of saber-toothed salmon, took off on a road trip into the past. Way, way in.

Then he came out with Cruisin' the Fossil Freeway, a book loaded with views of American prehistory — come alive through Troll's paint brushes.

Now Troll, who addressed capacity crowds last time he came to Port Angeles in 2011, will return to give a free talk on “Cruisin' the Washington Fossil Freeway,” his exhibit at the Port Angeles Library, 2210 S. Peabody St.

In the library's “living room” at 6:30 p.m. Friday, the exhibit's gala opening will do as Troll wants to do: mix art, science, music and time travel.

Song, food and books

Port Angeles High School's 24-voice Vocal Unlimited choir will sing “Earth Song” by Frank Tichelli, refreshments will be laid out, and Troll's books, such as Cruisin' the Fossil Freeway and Something Fishy This Way Comes, will be available for perusal and purchase.

Then Troll will give a slide-illustrated lecture with highlights from his travels with Kirk Johnson, a paleontologist who has since become director of the Smithsonian National Natural History Museum in Washington, D.C.

Johnson and Troll worked together on Cruisin' the Fossil Freeway, then found themselves inspired to create another book, The Eternal Coastline.

This exploration of the West Coast from Barrow, Alaska, to Baja California won't be out for a year and a half, Troll said, so he'll offer a preview of it during Friday's talk.

On Saturday at 2 p.m., Troll will teach an art class for children and adults at the Port Angeles Library. It's completely full, said Youth Services Librarian Jennifer Knight.

“But I would encourage people to get on the waiting list. I may have some cancellations,” Knight added. She can be reached at the library at 360-417-8500, ext. 7705.

“[Troll] is being really generous with his time,” she said, noting that he plans on speaking to students in Port Angeles High art and science classes Friday.

At the school, the library and anywhere else Troll speaks, he seeks to reveal the fossil stories beneath our feet.

'Cool stuff'

“There's so much cool stuff,” he said, such as the Manis mastodon discovered in Sequim and the Blue Lake rhino, a rhinoceros fossil found in Eastern Washington's Grant County.

“We can see where the world has been. We're unearthing these snapshots of the past,” Troll added, that can provide clues to where planet Earth is headed.

“There are whole groups of animals from the past” that inspire him to keep traveling.

“I'm an artist,” Troll said, but “there's a scientist lurking within me.”

The “Cruisin' the Washington Fossil Freeway” exhibit, with its Washington state fossil maps, art and text, will stay on display at the Port Angeles Library through April 13.

It's co-sponsored by the Burke Museum at the University of Washington, which will also present special programs next month.

On Saturday, March 1, at 2 p.m., staff from the Burke's educational division will teach a hands-on class on fossil forensics for children ages 7 to 11, and on Monday, March 17, at 6:30 p.m., Gregory Wilson from UW will talk about dinosaur extinction and the rise of mammals.

For details about these and other free offerings, see the North Olympic Library System's website,, or phone the Port Angeles Library at 360-417-8500.


Features Editor Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5062, or at

Last modified: February 05. 2014 7:21PM
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