WACO — I can honestly say that I never thought I’d be able to see the excavation site of mammoths in my lifetime, but little did I know I was only an hour away from a site.
Just an hour north of Fort Hood lies the site of some excavated Columbian Mammoth bones at the Waco Mammoth National Monument.
While exploring a dry creek bed in 1978, Paul Barron and Eddie Bufkin spotted a bone sticking out of the ground in Waco. Knowing they had found something special, they took the bone to the Strecker Museum at Baylor University where it was identified as part of a leg bone from a Columbian Mammoth.
They began excavating immediately and found the bones of at least 23 Columbian Mammoths from 1984 to 2001. Eighteen of them were grouped in “the nation’s first and only recorded evidence of a nursery herd of Pleistocene mammoths,” according to the National Park Service.
The original owner of the land, Jack McGlasson, donated it to the city of Waco in 1996 and the attraction opened to the public in 2009.
The Waco Mammoth National Monument is doing its best to slow the spread of COVID-19 and has moved their gift shop outside. They are also only taking cards, not cash, for tickets to the exhibit. Tickets are $5 for adults while children, Pre-K to 6th grade are $3, and children 3 and under can enter for free. Students in 7th grade through college, seniors 60 and over, educators and military members with their ID get in for $4.
After purchasing our tickets my roommate and I went over to a small booth that has bones from other animals that would have lived at the same time as the mammoths, including a saber tooth tiger.
We then began walking down the short trail to the excavation site. On the way to the site, there is the beginning of a walking trail, one of several that the park offers to those looking to get outside and exercise.
Since we weren’t prepared to walk a long distance we decided to skip the trails and go straight to the mammoth remains.
When we made it to the building there were several signs with tons of information on how the bones were found and how the attraction came to be.
Then we were met at the door by a worker who checked for our tickets and reminded us to remain socially distanced from others.
Inside, you can see the remains of a couple of mammoths and even a camel while walking along the elevated path. The bones are lit up nicely to allow for easy viewing and there are glass panes in the fencing of the walkway to allow visitors to see without leaning over the railing.
There are several more plaques with information on them, including how they can tell the male and female mammoths apart.
It only took us 15 minutes to look at the excavation site, but there was tons of information to learn and it was an experience I won’t forget.