Waco is what’s happening in Central Texas, and no, that’s not just a recent thing. Waco’s been known throughout history for many things, some not so great, but many of them are something to take pride in: the Chisholm Trail, the Waco suspension bridge, three Army bases, Baylor University, Texas Christian University, Geyser City, the Waco Cubs, and more, all of which brought folks to Waco by the thousands. With all of these things going on in Waco, it might be easy to overlook one of Waco’s greatest attractions: it’s natural beauty.
The natural beauty is what brought one group to Waco 65,000 [or more]years ago and the reason why they never left. Discovered in 1978, the Waco Mammoth Site is the home and final resting place of the largest nursery herd of Columbian mammoths in the world.
The site was found by a couple of high school students when they stumbled upon a three-foot-long leg bone in a cow pasture. Knowing the bone didn’t belong to one of the cows, they took the bone to a professor at Baylor University. Upon further digging (pun intended), they unearthed the remains of 16 Columbian mammoths at the initial dig site. Since then, they’ve unearthed an additional eight mammoths along with the remains of some other extinct species spanning thousands of years and three flooding events.
Today what you’ll find is a visitors center with a modest gift shop, temperature-controlled indoor dig site, a dig site for kids where they learn how to unearth fossils with replicas from the site and trails that wind through 100 acres of wooded parkland. Open to the public four years ago, the facilities are top notch and a pleasant surprise off the beaten path. And while there are some places you might be leery of taking the kids, this site is perfect for the young and young at heart.
Insider Tip: While you can tour the site on you own, 45 minute – one-hour tours (depending on size and how many questions you might have) are led regularly by a knowledgeable staff willing to share information and tell you stories about the site, the region, and about mammoths in general.
Waco Mammoth Site is located at 6220 Steinbeck Bend; just take Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway across Lake Shore and it will be on the left. The site is open Tuesday through Fridays 11am-5pm, Saturdays 9am-5pm & closed Sundays and Mondays. Admission is $7 per adult and $5-6 for children with discounts available. If you have any questions, you can call 254.750.7946.
For additional information, check out wacomammoth.com