Roy Chapman Andrews, one of the most celebrated explorers of the 20th century, was born in Beloit on January 26, 1884. He grew up across the river at 419 St. Lawrence Avenue. Andrews acquired a lifelong passion for the natural world during his childhood explorations of the Rock River Valley. In March 1905, he survived a harrowing boating accident upriver that claimed the life of his companion.
The following year Andrews graduated from Beloit College and talked his way onto the staff of the American Museum of Natural History in New York. His first job involved sweeping floors; his last one, decades later, was as museum director. In between, the intrepid Andrews explored the globe. He gained his greatest fame during a series of five scientific expeditions he led to the Gobi Desert of Mongolia and China from 1922 to 1930.
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Using an ingenious combination of ancient and modern forms of transportation - camels and motor cars - his team of explorers discovered new species of dinosaurs, the first nests of dinosaur eggs, evidence of early mammals that coexisted with dinosaurs, and colossal Ice Age mammals.
Andrews collected a lifetime of adventure as well, crediting a lucky star with seeing him through encounters with snakes, standoffs with bandits, accidental tumbles over cliffs, and many other escapades. He wrote extensively about his exploits and discoveries, inspiring new generations to take up the profession of exploration.
Andrews died in 1960 at age 76 and is buried in Beloit's Oakwood Cemetery. Contemporary explorers covet the prize and statue awarded in his name since 2003, the Roy Chapman Andrews Society Distinguished Explorer Award.