Sumner County's archeological find
the Colombian mammoth
(Information Courtesy Chisholm Trail Museum, Kent R. Johnston)
In the spring of 1992, Mr. Tim Kelly, an Engineering Aid for the Sumner County Road and Bridge Department made a unique discovery. A few miles southeast of Wellington, he unearthed what he would later find to be the skull of a Colombian Mammoth, an extinct elephant from the Ice Age.
The skull was excavated and taken to the University of Kansas Museum of Natural History. The Division of Vertebrate Paleontology prepared the skull for exhibit, and it is now on display on the first floor of the Sumner County Courthouse.
Kent R. Johnston, former Director of the Chisholm Trail Museum, researched the find and determined that the "Colombian Mammoth" was known to have lived during the Ice Ages and postglacial times. The skull of the animal is pointed at the back, and carried higher than that of modern Asian and African elephants. Tusks grew downward at first, then arched up, becoming 12-13 feet long. The animal was one of the largest of the American Mammoths. They often grew to heights of 10 to 13 meets at the shoulder, and bulls could weigh 8,000 to 9,000 kilograms.
Records dating back to the 1870's tell of some of the first farmers in Sumner County finding the bones of these animals.
This skull is a part of the Chisholm Trail Museum on display at the Sumner County Courthouse. Only two other museums in the state have one in their collection.
Periodically, the University of Kansas staff return to the site to continue a search for more fossil remains. As of November 1993, they had identified the remains of three different mammoths and a giant sloth at the same location.