Day at the Museum

“People, I’ve been told, would call Bob Campbell and say, ‘Bob, I’ve found a cave bear! Would you want it?’” says Adam Smith, curator of the Bob Campbell Geology Museum. “I get the sense that Bob never said no because his collection was expansive.”

Cave bear skull

The cave bear Smith is referring to is a 35,000-year-old skull that peers from one of the glass cases in the museum, which is settled in the hills of the South Carolina Botanical Garden to the right of the gated entrance. The skull is hulking and toothy, and the sign next to it shows that cave bears were nearly twice as large as grizzly bears and that it was collected in Austria. It’s one of Smith’s favorite pieces.

Along with many fossils and casts like the cave bear, the museum boasts an impressive collection of rocks and minerals. This collection largely comes from the museum’s namesake.

Bob Campbell graduated from Clemson in 1937 and after returning from World War II, opened his own successful quarry business. Campbell soon became known for his collection of rocks and fossils, and he had a network of contributors who helped him. Facing an increasing inventory displayed at their house, Campbell’s wife, Betsy, eventually convinced her husband to open his own museum. Ergo the Bob Campbell Geology Museum.

Adam Smith in the museum with part of a triceratops horn

To highlight what the museum has to offer, we asked Smith to give us his top two picks from the exhibits:


What’s up? This exhibit features a collection of associated triceratops fossils (including a large piece of head frill, four pieces of skull and parts of two of the animal’s three horns) that were collected and prepped by Smith and Clemson students. Associated means that all of these fossils belong to one individual, whereas composite means that the fossils belong to multiple individuals.

What’s cool? A piece of this massive dinosaur’s head frill has been partially embedded in acrylic, allowing visitors to touch and feel a real 68-million-year-old fossil.

Minerals of South and North Carolina

What’s up? This collection shows off the diversity of rocks that can be found in the western Carolinas, which are very mineral-rich states despite their lack of fossils (fossils are quite common in the eastern Carolinas).

What’s cool? The museum runs a free-of-charge mineral and fossil identification service, but Smith has never seen anyone bring in a fulgurite. These very thin tubes of fused sand are created by lightning strikes and are often found near the Outer Banks in North Carolina. But any sandy area has potential, Smith says.

Smilodon, a.k.a. saber-toothed tiger, skeleton

Editor’s Pick ↑

This exact replica of a Smilodon skeleton assembled from fossils pulled from the La Brea Tar Pits in California shows visitors the size and shape of a prehistoric tiger.


Take a virtual tour of the Bob Campbell Geology Museum here:

Ben and Tommy’s Excellent Frisbee Golf Course

Since the frisbee, as we know it, was invented in 1948, it has since become a necessity for the average college student. Bowman Field and the intramural fields have certainly seen their fair share of the sporting disc over the years. But it was in the ’80s when Clemson’s first unofficial Frisbee golf course began to take off, thanks to a couple of friends — namely Ben Gaddis ’88 and Tommy Campbell ’89 — who tweaked and propagated aspects of the original campus course (of unknown origins).

“The basic course was in place I think back in the ’70s,” Campbell says. “Ben, our friends and I just expanded on it over a period of time from the mid ’80s until the late ’90s.”

Gaddis and Campbell shared with us their famous 18-hole Frisbee golf adventure. Here are some of the highlights:

Tee from the Thomas Green Clemson statue in front of Tillman Hall to a lamppost by the lower corner of Brackett Hall.

Tee from the middle of the sidewalk above the amphitheater with a mandatory dogleg through the amphitheater stage door to the lamppost directly behind the stage door.

  Tee from the top of the stairs on Library Bridge to the lamppost on the right side of the reflection pond underneath the trees.

13  Tee from the cannons on Bowman Field (old location) to the front of Holtzendorff.

17  Tee from the upper Holtzendorff sidewalk (blind shot) to the old track around Riggs Field with a mandatory dogleg through the tunnel at the back of the building (entrance to Riggs Field) to hit the manhole near the bottom of the stairs.

18   Tee from the Riggs track to split the large brick buildings and enter the quad courtyard; then dogleg left to a distant flag pole.