1888: Mastodon Sightings

Posted by: Loren Coleman on August 8th, 2008


Grey River [New Zealand] Argus, February 17, 1888




The Juneau (Alaska) Free Press says that the Stick Indians, near the headwaters of the White river, positively assert that within the last five years an animal has been seen by them which, according to description, must be a mastodon.

One of the Indians said that while hunting he came across an immense track sunk several inches in the moss and larger around than a barrel. The Indian followed up the curious trail, and at last came in full view of his game.

These Indians as a class are the bravest of hunters, but the immense proportions of this new kind of game filled the hunter with fear, and he took to swift and immediate flight. He described it as being larger than the post trader’s store, with great shining, yellowish tusks, and a mouth large enough to swallow him at a single gulp. He said the animal was undoubtedly the same as were indicated by the huge bones scattered over that section.

The fact that other hunters have told of seeing this monster, and the numerous bones found in that section, give a certain probability to the story. On Forty-Mile Creek bones can be found projecting partly from the sands and among the driftwood along the stream.

One ivory tusk projects nine feet out of a sandbank and is larger around than a man’s body. A single tooth would be a good load for a strong man to carry.

Thanks to Jerome Clark for forwarding this old report.

Loren Coleman About Loren Coleman
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading living cryptozoologist. Certainly, he is acknowledged as the current living American researcher and writer who has most popularized cryptozoology in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Starting his fieldwork and investigations in 1960, after traveling and trekking extensively in pursuit of cryptozoological mysteries, Coleman began writing to share his experiences in 1969. An honorary member of Ivan T. Sanderson’s Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained in the 1970s, Coleman has been bestowed with similar honorary memberships of the North Idaho College Cryptozoology Club in 1983, and in subsequent years, that of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club, CryptoSafari International, and other international organizations. He was also a Life Member and Benefactor of the International Society of Cryptozoology (now-defunct). Loren Coleman’s daily blog, as a member of the Cryptomundo Team, served as an ongoing avenue of communication for the ever-growing body of cryptozoo news from 2005 through 2013. He returned as an infrequent contributor beginning Halloween week of 2015. Coleman is the founder in 2003, and current director of the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine.

12 Responses to “1888: Mastodon Sightings”

  1. HOOSIERHUNTER responds:

    I wonder if the bones are still there and have they been dated? With today’s resources we could tell if they are more recent than current theory allows.

  2. Lightning Orb responds:

    Cool article; I wonder how many other creatures mightn’t be quite as dead as they’re supposed to be…

  3. swnoel responds:

    It’s just not the same without some blurry photographic evidence.

  4. Our Lady of the Massacre responds:

    Hasn’t it been proven that mastodons were alive on some coastal island(s) long past the time they were supposedly extinct? I could’ve sworn I heard that somewhere…

  5. mystery_man responds:

    Sure it couldn’t be mangy bears they were seeing? Or otters? 🙂

    Seriously, it sure would be interesting to see remnant Pleistocene fauna still surviving into modern days. I would say that Alaska would be prime habitat for them, that’s for sure. It’s sad to think that while they may have been around in 1888, they could already be extinct and we may never know if they were around in modern times.

  6. sschaper responds:

    That would be Wrangel Island, and to at least 2,000 B. C.

    Surviving Pleistocene megafauna include: wisent, elk, moose, mountain goats, muskoxen, etc. etc. 😉

    Certainly could have been true, though apparently even African elephants, let alone the Indian varieties, some of which have noticeable hair, like cold weather and snow just fine. This from a TV special on a ‘retirement home’ for circus and other elephants in Canada.

    Did anyone else notice that this band or tribe was called the “Stick Indians” a name associated rightly or wrongly with bigfoot in the NW? I’m not saying that these were sasquatch, but rather that the Stick Indians might not be sasquatch. Maybe.

  7. cryptidsrus responds:

    Would not surprise me if prehistoric creatures lke this were to be found in remote, islated areas of the world.

    I remmeber when prehistoric horses were found in a remote, out-of-the-way vally in Tibet some years ago. Anyone remeber that? Also, I wonder whther they are being studied right now?

  8. Munnin responds:

    I thought also of the remains, found in the Siberian Arctic on Wrangel island, of the “dwarf” (25% smaller) mammoths that persisted there. The most recent remains date to about 4000 years ago. As I recall, the dentition of these remains identified them as mammoths, and not mastodons. However, such a distinction would probably not be assiduously observed in a newspaper article.

  9. mystery_man responds:

    sschaper- I meant surviving remnants of supposedly extinct Pleistocene animals of course.

  10. mackdaddy responds:

    Stick Indians refers to different things depending on whom you are speaking to.

    Stick Indians can be small yellow skinned elfin like creatures that steal food off the beach and lure children who are berry picking (Quileute)

    Stick Indians can be Sasquatch

    Stick Indians can be California or other coastal Indians without a ‘high’ culture (common parlance until the mid-20th Century).

    Those are the three uses of Stick Indian I know of. Don’t know how many others there are.

  11. SteveA responds:

    If we have overlooked 150,000 gorillas in the congo, there must be many cryptids out there to be found. When will mainstream science wake up?

  12. dogu4 responds:

    There are not many as open to the idea of isolated remnant populations surviving to the modern day in the remote wilds as I am, but even I have little hope that this one could still be trundlin’ across the tundra. Having flown a bit across the boreal forest, taiga and tundra, I don’t see how an animal, whether a browser like the mastodon or a grazer like a mammoth could have escaped detections. The impacts of their feeding and travelling, and visibility from the air, and the frequency with which the land is flown-over just puts it beyond the pale for me. Small planes flying at only a few hundred or even a couple of thousand feet, which is not atypical, provide an excellent platform from which to spy big animals and moose for example, which would be small by comparison, are quite evident. People who live a subsistance life-style and hunt there are contstantly on the look-out for game and these days fly around quite a bit. It’d take either a poweful kind of perceptual blindness or extremely stealthy and tiny animals for them to not be seen and reported.
    That said, I would love to see keystone species like mammoths genetically reconstructed and reintroduced into a pleistocene park, as is being dreamed about by a few visionaries.
    As to what the landscape of the north might have contained prior to the introduction of modern guns and ammo along with commercial harversting of animals,who knows. The interior natives had been trading furs for amunition since Russian Fur Company and Hudson Bay Company days and it’s from these days that the odd story of the “mountain of meat” and the “giant 5 legged bears” seem to come.
    I would think that if anyone with a modern understanding found skeletal remains or frozen carcass they would of course presume they were the same age as the other fossil remains that do indeed get exposed through erosion.

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