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
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
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.
Accessibility: The sign can be seen from the parking lot.
Facilities: Parking is available.