Randolph Mammoth Returns To Catt. County

Pictured is the Randolph Mammoth, first discovered in May 1934. Submitted photo

RANDOLPH — The historic Randolph Mammoth has again returned to the Cattaraugus County Museum and Research Library.

The mammoth was first discovered in Randolph in May 1934, when workers were digging a pond at the state fish hatchery. When the workers struck the mammoth’s skull they realized they had something, and a few days later a state paleontologist came to oversee further digging. The mammoth was eventually shipped to Albany where it would spend several decades on display at the state museum.

It is one of only two mammoth specimens found in Cattaraugus County, the other being a tooth discovered in Olean in 1989. This mammoth — thought to be a Columbian Mammoth and rarer in the region than the Wooly Mammoth — is also the most complete found in New York state.

In the early 2000s, the mammoth skull made a brief return to Cattaraugus County.

“I started at the museum in 2007,” said Brain McClellan, Cattaraugus County Museum curator. “At the time one of our employees suggested we reach out to Albany to see about being able to get the mammoth back from Albany on a loan. She was so interested in it because she was actually at the excavation of the mammoth, and was 7 years old at the time. It was a big event that many people from the town came out to see, and she was one of them. In 2015, we found out it was on loan to the Roger Tory Peterson Institute in Jamestown and we asked Albany again and it was given to us on loan in 2016.”

The Randolph Mammoth, consisting of the original tusks and a cast of the skull, remained at the Cattaraugus County Museum for about a year and a half.

Museum officials were recently asked if they were interested in having mammoth again.

“We said of course we would like to have it back,” McClellan said. “We were supposed to get it in Spring of 2020, and then of course COVID happened so we had to wait. They got in contact with us last October and the mammoth was returned to us in November.”

The Randolph Mammoth is expected to stay at the museum for about 18 months as a part of an exhibit looking at fossils and prehistoric items, some of which are on loan from a museum in Buffalo.

The Randolph Mammoth to this day remains an important scientific discovery. Experiments including cutting into the original tusks have been done to try and determine the age of the mammoth at time of death.

“It’s a pretty neat thing to have on display,” McClellan said.

Along with the mammoth exhibit, the museum currently has a summer event program going on with musicals and lectures about historic topics from the Summer Stone House. On Thursday there will be an exhibitor talking about quilting and embroidery, and on Saturday from 2-5 p.m. there will be an event focusing on the 154th regiment, discussing the acquisition of land that the regiment fought on.

There is also a program going on for veterans, taking an oral history of Cattaraugus County veterans. The museum has had a videographer come in and make videos of the veterans which are now shown on a kiosk at the museum and on their YouTube channel.

For more information on these upcoming events or for veterans interested in being a part of the oral history program, visit the Cattaraugus County’s Facebook page or website, www.cattco.org/museum.


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