Digging Up Ice Age Mammoth Bones Near Kennewick, the Coyote Canyon Site
Did you know there is an archeological dig operation and museum next to Kennewick? It’s called the Coyote Canyon Mammoth Site and MCBONES Research Center Foundation, and it's open to the public during certain months of the year.
What is a Mammoth?
A mammoth was a large, hairy, elephant-like animal that roamed North America, Asia, and Europe as far back as 300,000 years and became extinct about 4,000 years ago. Mammoths spent most of their day eating up to 400 pounds of grass, leaves, and other vegetation. The large tusks were used as a defense and also to clear brush and snow as they foraged for food.
How and when were the Mammoth bones discovered near Kennewick?
In 1999, during a quarry operation (open-pit dig), large bones were unearthed in Coyote Canyon (near Kennewick). When it became known they were mammoth bones, possibly from the ice age flood deposits, excavation came to a halt and the area was designated off-limits to further quarry operations. Eight years passed and in 2007 the land was sold to a local family that preserved the site and developed it into a research area for students and schools. Archeologists were also brought in and excavation began.
How the Great Ice Age Floods Brought Mammoth Bones to Kennewick
According to the Washington State Parks Service, during the ice age 18,000 years ago, a large chunk of ice, “a half-mile high blocked the Clark Fork River” near what is now the Idaho/Montana border. This formed a huge glacier lake and dam. The dam filled and failed, filled and failed, and filled and failed many times which sent large bodies of water gushing all over what is now eastern Washington – some of these floods backed up in the Wallula Gap, the Horse Heaven Hills, and Yakima Valley. This created a temporary lake with depths up to 800 feet. When all the archeological unrest settled, so did the bones of the mammoth that were eventually discovered in Coyote Canyon in 1999.
How to Schedule a Tour at Coyote Canyon
Tours can be scheduled at the MCBONES Research Center Foundation website. The “Dig House” can accommodate groups of up to 30. Donations are welcome as they need them to continue operations. Schedule a tour and learn the amazing history surrounding our area here.