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Front Page » July 3, 2007 » Local News » Castle Valley, Utah representatives dedicate mammoth kios...
Published 2,981 days ago

Castle Valley, Utah representatives dedicate mammoth kiosk on Energy Loop

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Emery Progress Editor

A small crowd attended the ribbon cutting and ceremonial opening of the kiosk at the mammoth extraction site near Huntington Reservoir on Friday morning. The kiosk overlooks the pit where one of the best examples of a preserved mammoth was found in 1988 when a construction crew pulled what they thought was a log out of the ground. Those that attended the ceremony heard from speakers who were at the site at the time of the extraction and heard first hand about the adventure those people faced in preserving the bones.

A beast which roamed Huntington Canyon 11,000 years ago is still a cause of interest.

The mammoth was discovered at Huntington Reservoir on Aug. 8, 1988 by a Nielson Construction backhoe operator.

Authorities were notified and the process of removing the ancient creature began. The event drew large crowds with more than 5,000 people visiting the site during excavation.

Last Friday, visitors gathered at the site of the mammoth discovery to dedicate the recently constructed kiosk and information center.

The Huntington/Eccles Scenic Byway is a diverse route that passes discovery site. Energy Loop coordinator Jana Abrams played an instrumental role in garnering the funds for the project.

"This kiosk is a new visitor attraction," said Abrams during the ceremonies. "We want visitors to stay a little longer in our communities. We have such a diverse community here along the Energy Loop and Huntington and Eccles Canyons. This byway ties everything together - mining, farming, travel and recreation."

The constructing of the kiosk was made possible with a grant funding from the federal highway division.

Bill Broadbear from the United States Forest Service worked on the trail down to the kiosk and the slope is ADA accessible.

Abrams pointed out that it was a long process of information and photo gathering of the mammoth find to go on the information panels.

The Energy Loop coordinator said she appreciated artist Joe Venus for the painted mural depicting how the area may have looked when the mammoth roamed the country. The mural is on one of the panels.

Dawnette Tuttle from Orangeville donated the use of her pictures and the newspaper clippings from the time of the discovery.

A second part of the kiosk project has been the installation of low wattage radio antennas which will broadcast information about the area.

Information will include camping options, weather conditions and special activities. The information will be broadcast on AM 1610.

Wayne Nielson was at the June 29 dedication and said the construction company was working on a new dam at the time of the discovery.

Construction company employees were excavating when they brought up a bone from 50 to 60 feet underground in a bowl area.

The bog area acted as a refrigerator for the skeleton and the cool mud kept the mammoth preserved for approximately 11,000 years.

Martha Hayden of the Utah Geologic Survey was called to the site on the day of the discovery. She worked with Dave Madsen and Dave Gillette in the mammoth removal process.

The bones were wrapped in burlap to prevent them from drying out.

The bone unearthed by Nielson Construction was a tusk or humerus bone. It was lying on the ground.

Hayden said there was excellent cooperation with Nielson Construction, the forest service and the volunteers at the site. She described the find as one of the greatest ice age fossil discoveries as the mammoth was 95 percent complete. A short-faced bear was also located at the site.

Hayden explained during last Friday's ceremonies that the site had been a bog which was created by a glacier slide and became the mammoth's resting spot.

The mammoth deposited at the end of the ice age was a very old male, 60 to 65 years old at the end of the prehistoric animal's life.

Fur needles were preserved inside his stomach, which is a poor diet for a mammoth of this size.

Martha Hayden of the Utah Geologic Survey shows off a plaster cast of one of the mammoth teeth found at the site in 1988 during her talk during the ceremony. Hayden pointed out that everyone was excited, but that there were some differences of opinion about not only what the animal they found was, but also about who owned the bones of the prehistoric beast. The site is located in an area where Emery, Carbon and Sanpete counties come together.

The mammoth was also found to have arthritis.

Don Burge, who was the director of the College of Eastern Utah Prehistoric Museum in 1988, explained last Friday that next August will mark the 20 year anniversary of the mammoth discovery.

"The discovery has changed the course of the CEU museum," stated the former director. "There have been more than 30 casts made of this mammoth. The South Dakota Mammoth site even has one of our mammoths. There are two in Japan, one in a Los Angeles museum and one in Canada."

Some of the bones were kept in kiddie pools around the museum to keep them from drying out, continued Burge. There were arguments at first of who owned the mammoth. The CEU museum became accredited so it could serve as a repository for the mammoth bones.

Burge said, initially, some experts originally identified the beast as a mastodon and he was glad to point out to them the real identity of the creature.

A mammoth has teeth similar to an elephant teeth and mastodon teeth are more like human molars.

A mammoth cast is displayed at the CEU museum and the original skeleton is also available for public viewing at the facility.

The skeleton is stored in a conservation laboratory where the relative humidity is kept at 30 percent and the room temperature at 68 degrees Fahrenheit.

"We did more things right than wrong and the bones are still in good condition," stated Burge.

Addressing the attendees at the June 29 event, Broadbear said one day during the discovery period a reporter from the New York Times showed up one day during the discovery period and wanted to do a story about the mammoth.

Interest in the mammoth discovery went worldwide.

Carlos Machado of the Federal Highways Administration's Utah division explained last Friday that he works with the scenic byways to help with grants to do projects.

Machado said he enjoyed the partnerships and the work they do to be good stewards of the natural resources.

The Utah division director described scenic byways as an extensive collection of special places.

"I have never been here before and am surprised with the scenic views," said Machado.

Since 1992, the division has had $7.3 million procured to fund 84 projects around the state.

Gael Hill, Utah State Scenic Byway coordinator, rounded out the program with her description of the scenic byways program.

"The byways connect our country," she said. "Utah has better byways than many states."

The mammoth kiosk is located just in front of the dam at Huntington Reservoir. Sometimes called Mammoth Reservoir, the lake is located at the top of Huntington Canyon.

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