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Boaz Mastodon Historical Marker

Location: The marker is located in a wayside on Highway 14 a little over five miles west of Richland Center and just west of the community of Boaz.

Site Description: This marker is located 1,365 feet west of the actual location where, in 1897, a very heavy rainstorm exposed part of a mastodon skeleton. The rain was so heavy that the Dosch family was concerned that it may have washed out part of a fence. The three sons headed out after the rain to check on the fence and one of them noticed a large object sticking out of the stream bank. A closer look revealed that it was a very large bone. They dug it out, dragged it home, and returned with shovels to look for more bones. As they dug, more and more bones were discovered. They carried each of the bones home and leaned them against a hitching post near the entrance to their farm. The display drew immediate attention. The boys were joined by other local residents who also dug for bones. The discovery created quite a sensation and soon the news of the digging spread all the way to Richland Center. Frank Burnham of Richland Center, and a member of the state Legislature, arranged for the state to purchase the bones for $50.

Up to until the 1960s, the Boaz mastodon was, like many of the other mastodon discoveries in the eastern United States, interesting but not unusual. In 1962 a geology professor from the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, Harris Palmer, learned that two spear points may have been recovered with the mastodon. This discovery led to the startling realization that the Boaz site was probably a place where American Indians hunted and killed the mastodon. One of the points was a fluted Paleo-Indian point. The association of the point and the mastodon was the first substantial evidence in Wisconsin that linked the Paleo-Indians with the hunting of mastodons. Standing at the marker gives one a sense of the types of areas in southwestern Wisconsin where mastodon skeletons may be buried.

Time Period: Paleo-Indian Dates: 12,500 B.C. – 5500 Years Ago

Comments: The Boaz mastodon site is another example of the role property owners and citizens play in the reporting of archaeological sites. Without the Dosch families interest, the site may never have been reported. The Dosch family has maintained their interest over the years, and the family played the crucial role in having the marker erected. The site also demonstrates the careful detective work necessary to confirm the association of the point with the mastodon. Harris Palmer carefully assembled information concerning the find, including interviewing the Dosch brothers about the events of 1897, before presenting his evidence for the critical review of others. His work has stood the test of time.

Season: The wayside is closed during the winter.

Fees: None
Accessibility: The sign can be seen from the parking lot.
Facilities: Parking is available.

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