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The Story of the Randolph Mastodon

What is referred to now as the Randolph Mastodon is actually a combination of remains of two mastodon skeletons, one found in Randolph County, Indiana, and one in New Paris, Ohio. The two skeletons, of comparable scale, were each discovered in the years prior to 1895. Thomas Pierson discovered one on the Ross Reed Farm near New Paris in September, 1873. The other was discovered on the Bookout Farm in the southwest corner of Randolph County sometime before 1895.

Mounting the Mastodon

Students _under _mastodon _c

Based on college records, Joseph Moore purchased part of the New Paris skeleton nearly 20 years prior to 1895 and donated them to the museum along with the rest of his collections. He worked to purchase more of the remains in the following years and requested funding from the board of trustees of the college to purchase enough remains to mount a complete skeleton. The board, in a June 1895 correspondence, expressed, "the most thorough and hearty sympathy with the object and with Professor Moore's work… but way does not open to extend help at the present." This did not deter Moore, instead he solicited funds from Richmondites and friends in Indianapolis to purchase more mastodon remains from New Paris and from Randolph County. 

In the summer of 1895 he obtained enough parts to mount a complete skeleton, which he promptly did with the help of recent graduate Caswell Grave. Moore was dissatisfied with the mounting however (he wrote of the mounted mastodon "not being sufficiently true to life"), took it down and rebuilt it during a vacation in 1896. In another report Moore wrote that he was happy to announce that because his student assistant was willing to work on the project for very low pay, and due to many donations, "the entire purchase with all the labor bestowed has hardly cost the college the sum of ten dollars."

(Read Joseph Moore's article about the Randolph Mastodon in this article from the Proceedings of the Indiana Academy of Science)

The Fire

Student _working _on _Randolph _copyOn October 23, 1924, Lindley Hall, which then housed the Joseph Moore Museum, suffered a damaging fire. About ¼ of the collection was destroyed in the fire, however the mastodon skeleton was spared from being burned. According to a report submitted after the fire, the skeleton did suffer damage from falling beams and brick, and from the water and chemical used to put out the fire. Some parts of the skeleton were broken and scattered, however repairwork was able to restore much of the damage. The mastodon was not remounted until the museum moved to its current home in Dennis Hall in 1952 under the direction of Jim Cope. 

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