Barnes Area Historical Center and Museum
> Silver Beach Elk
Silver Beach Elk
During the summer of 2005 elk antlers and bones were discovered in
• DNR biologist Matt McKay, project leader of the Clam Lake Elk Reintroduction Project was contacted and he verified that the find was indeed elk remains and that the animal appeared to be a large individual.
• The stone spearhead is what archaeologists identify as a fluted point (grooves on the sides) and these types of spearheads are associated with a group of nomadic hunters called paleo-Indians. This pre-historic culture is dated at from 10,000 to 12,000 years ago, the oldest Indian culture in
• Dr. Jean Hudson, an associate professor of archaeology with the Department of Anthropology at
• Dr. Hudson proceeded with documenting the site and acquiring the necessary permits to proceed with a study of the site. Permits were received from the Department of Natural Resources, the Office of the State Archaeologist, and the Division of Historic Preservation.
• With the fluted point association, excitement about the elk spread throughout Barnes, the region, and the archaeology community. Speculation on the possibilities for the find drew media attention and several regional and statewide newspapers, Wisconsin Public Radio, and television reports brought the discovery to the public’s attention.
• In 2006, Dr,
• She and her students studied the bones and found tool marks on some of the bones, indicating that the elk was partially butchered. Not all of the elk skeleton was found. Additional documentation and study will continue on the skeleton and the wounding and butchering marks. With the tool markings and missing bones, it is apparent that these hunters of years ago enjoyed some good meals around the cooking fire.
• The site was officially named the Silver Beach Elk after the Silver Beach Resort owned by Quentin and Helen Ruprecht, near where the elk skeleton was found. Their granddaughter Nikki found the spearhead during the initial recovery efforts.
• An obvious question on everyone’s mind was “How old is it?” Dr. Hudson suggested conducting a radio-carbon dating analysis of the bones. Funding for the analysis was raised through local contributions and the procedure conducted.
• Results from the analysis found that the bones were about 500 years of age. All concerned, because of the fluted point’s estimated age, doubted the initial results. It was suggested that the sample may have been contaminated by organic lake sediments and so a second dating analysis was conducted. The second analysis confirmed the original findings with a date of approximately 500 years ago.
• No absolute connection can be made between the elk remains and the fluted spear point. Is it happenstance that they were located near each other? Or could the hunters of 500 years ago have found and re-used such an ancient spear point? Are these discoveries part of the same story or are there two stories on the same site? We may never know.
• BAHA (Barnes Area Historical Association) is very enthused about this discovery, and even though not as old as originally thought, it is a significant and fantastic archaeologic find.
• Efforts are underway to create a local museum where the Silver Beach Elk can proudly be displayed and its story told. Lost for 500 years, BAHA hopes to bring it back to ‘life’ for visitors to see and to learn about the wildlife and native people living here at the time of
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