On July 11, President Obama designated the Waco Mammoth Site as one of the nation's newest national monuments, rewarding the prolonged efforts of the City of Waco, Baylor University and the Waco Mammoth Foundation to receive this important designation by the National Park Service, which now manages the site in cooperation with the City of Waco and Baylor University.
The Waco Mammoth Foundation raised $4.2 million to turn the mammoth dig site into an educational tourism attraction, built to National Park Service standards.
U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell attended the dedication of the Waco Mammoth National Monument on Oct. 5. She complimented the local partnership that developed the site and doggedly pursued national park status.
Former First Lady Laura Bush, National Park Service Director Jon Jarvis, Baylor University President and Chancellor Ken Starr and other local leaders also attended the ceremony.
The site was discovered in 1978, when Waco residents Paul Barron and Eddie Bufkin were looking for arrowheads and fossils along the Bosque River and found a large bone protruding from the earth. Realizing the possible significance of this discovery, Barron and Bufkin immediately took the bone to the Strecker Museum at Baylor University where the bone was identified as the upper leg bone of a Columbian Mammoth.
Over the next 20 years, Baylor oversaw the excavation of the site, where they found the remains of the mammoths as well as a Western Camel, saber-toothed cat, dwarf antelope, American Alligator, and giant tortoise. The Columbian Mammoths are the largest mammoth species, standing 12 to 14 feet tall and weighing seven to eight tons. Their tusks grew as long as 16 feet. Many of the discovered bones, including the remains of four Columbian Mammoths as well as the skeleton of the camel, remain in place, providing visitors an opportunity to view them.