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Randolph Mammoth Returns to Cattco, Exhibit Opens Saturday

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By Mary Heyl

The famous “Randolph Mammoth” has returned to Cattaraugus County after 82 years and it will be on display at the Cattaraugus County Museum in Machias beginning this Saturday, August 6.

One of the most complete mammoth specimens ever found in New York State, the mammoth discovered in Randolph in 1934 is a must-see exhibit that is not only an amazing piece of history, but a true archaeological wonder.

Museum curator Brian McClellan invites the public to visit the museum on Saturday, when Dr. Robert Feranec, curator of Vertebrate Paleontology and of Modern Mammals at the New York State Museum in Albany will be giving a presentation about the mammoth at 1 p.m. during the exhibit’s grand opening.

On May 19, 1934, pond excavators discovered the mammoth at the state fish hatchery just outside of Randolph. While most mammoth excavations yield little more than some tooth and tusk fragments, the mammoth remains in Randolph include both tusks, which have a combined weight of approximately 150 pounds, and the skull, which weighs about 200 pounds.

The remains date back about 12,000 years and have been identified as those of a Columbian Mammoth (not a woolly mammoth), which would have stood more than 14 feet high. Because the mammoth was discovered on state lands, it is the property of New York State. According to McClellan, the discovery was made on a Saturday and by the following Wednesday, the mammoth remains were already on their way to Albany to be curated at the state museum to prevent further deterioration.

Since that historic day, the mammoth has been at the state museum in Albany, but in recent years has been on display at other museums, including Jamestown’s Roger Tory Peterson Institute and the Roberson Museum in Binghamton.

“One thing that really drove us to get the mammoth here in Cattaraugus County is that a member of our board of trustees remembers the mammoth discovery in Randolph,” explained McClellan.

Board member Anne Easton was just seven years old when she and her father rushed over to the fish hatchery to watch all the excitement, including the second tusk coming out of the ground! Although there may not be many Cattaraugus County residents who remember that day, McClellan invites members of the public to share family photographs, newspaper clippings and stories told by those who were alive when it was unearthed.

McClellan said the Cattaraugus County Museum will have the mammoth on display for a full year, but hopefully even longer. This is good news for visitors and area residents who plan to visit this amazing display.

It’s also fortunate for the museum staff, including McClellan, who said that getting the mammoth into the museum was quite the undertaking.

“We used a box truck to get the display from the Roberson Museum in Binghamton, and packing and securing it went very smoothly,” said McClellan.

However, getting the bulky cases into the museum was not so simple, as the tusks were crated and could not be tipped.  Both were carried into the museum, which had to undergo a few modifications to accommodate the large replica of the mammoth.

The museum, located at 9824 Route 16 in Machias, is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Thursday, but will be open special hours this Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Bradley Parker, president of the museum’s Board of Trustees, will begin the grand opening event at 1 p.m., which will be followed by Dr. Feranec’s presentation. The museum, including admission to Saturday’s event, is free to the public. For more information about the museum and the mammoth exhibit, contact Brian McClellan at (716)353-8200 or bjmcclellan@cattco.org.

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