Scrapbook One Hundred Seventeen…



Ancient Leftovers


IMG_1195Mammoths roamed all over the Americas, and if you get way out into the countryside you might find one. That’s what we did, and we were many miles from a road on a friend’s ranch in northeastern New Mexico. We first found a large mammoth tooth. The enamel plates had broken apart and the wear patterns said it belonged to a very old animal.



A mile or so farther, as we walked along a softly flowing stream of water, I discovered a tusk. It had been exposed to the elements for a long time because the ivory had dried and layers were popping off in fragments. I guessed it was a mammoth because mastodons are not commonly found in the Southwest.


IMG_1193I started excavating in the cement-like clay that engulfed the tusk. It was a hot summer day, and the bursitis-inducing work with a small handpick progressed slowly.


Meanwhile my ranch friend scavenged the surrounding area, searching for artifacts. Suddenly he discovered a knife eroding from the bank. It was of useful size and made of Edwards Plateau flint. Heavy damage on both blade edges indicated that it may have been used to cut meat from bone. We knew that tool could not be associated with the mammoth because the flake patterns were not Clovis technology, and Clovis man was the only human known to kill the great beasts.

I continued working as the sun burned low in the sky. Finally the tusk was completely uncovered and I took this photo.


My efforts to learn when the mammoth died proved futile because there wasn’t enough collagen in the ivory to obtain a carbon-14 date. That meant the animal died many years ago – perhaps 50,000 or more.


The mammoth tusk weighed 70 pounds when we lifted it into the bed of the pickup. Over the years it has dried and crumbled into a sad semblance of what it used to be.

For those who read Dal’s blog and want a rare ivory fragment of American history, please send a padded, self-addressed stamped envelope, postmarked on January 5, 2015, or earlier, to:

Forrest Fenn
P.O. Box 8174
Santa Fe, NM  87504.

If one should grasp a chunk of an ancient mammoth in one’s hand and close one’s eyes, who knows what thoughts might flow into one’s fertile mind?


I always intended to go back to my friend’s ranch and dig out the mammoth skull. But it’s been thirty years since I walked along that softly flowing stream of water, and now, at age 84 …  it’s just too much for me.

86 thoughts on “Scrapbook One Hundred Seventeen…

    • …Okay, maybe this is what Forrest is saying,
      It could be the Brown’s have grown weary of this chase, so Fenn has to emphasize that although he may have gone there thirty years ago, he hasn’t been back since. I think Dal makes a good point, Fenn is by no means a shut-in. He enjoys people, makes friends easily & for some that’s their quintessential wealth.

    • Illinois – just a little while longer, an exhaustive search is coming, in between the two points up the middle hopefully I find the black. Right now though, there’s snow on the ground. I may have to wait for a break in January for a few clear days 🙂

  1. Back to the post office I go.

    Too bad there was not much that could have been done to preserve the tusk better once excavated. Were options very limited I am guessing?

  2. Mr. Fenn, many of us would enjoy even one experience or find that have defined your amazing life of adventure. I admire you for choosing your own path and appreciate your wife for her willingness to live it with you.

    Thanks for sharing the story.

  3. Forrest, you are soooo good to us! I’m sending my envelope to you today! I’m going to make something out of my piece. If you want me to go and dig up the skull for you, let me know. I love to dig in the dirt, especially for awesome stuff like a mammoth skull. I also wanted to know how or why the knife in your hand in the picture is so shiny. Is it because of what it is made of or is something on it?

    Thanks again!

  4. Awesome! On another note, I live very close to the Tule Springs Fossil Site. It’s about to or has just become a national monument. Lots of Mammoth and other fossils have been and are being found there. I’ve been to a couple other fossil sites around Las Vegas and found fossils. But I probably wouldn’t recognize something important if I saw it.

    • Carolyn… I think he’s just giving a fragment. However… If you send a really big padded envelope, he might send you a really big piece. We just never know with Forrest Fenn, do we?!?!

  5. Fortunately I already possess the tip of a mammoth tusk. My piece is well preserved, something I’ve cherished for 40+ years. Time to start wearing it.

  6. What an interesting hunt you went on and what a nice thing to do to share your find with us Forrest! I’ll get my SASE in the mail as soon as I can get a padded envelope. 🙂

  7. I may not make it to the post office until next week, but count me in! I’m not sure which is more awesome—the tusk or the knife, but I really love that picture of you, Forrest.

      • Spallies, it is a nice picture of forrest who would have been about 53-54. He looks deep in contemplation. You just never know if his scrapbooks will Roll with laughter, encourage deep thinking, or simply share another of his pleasant reveries with us.

  8. Forrest, you are too cool. Giving us a little piece of history like this is really nice of you. You have to be cool to wear jeans at you age.

  9. Pretty cool ff !!

    “northeastern New Mexico” huh? Is that Wheeler Peak in the background?

    Too bad it wasn’t another “Sue”. 🙂

    • Eddie V, f wouldn’t be nearly as fun to follow if he were sporting blue polyester stretch Sansabelt pants! LOL

      What do you think about all the tEEth references? It’s got me grinding my teeth, having nightmares about my teeth falling out, and being sawn in half by those old rusty 6 foot long two man saw blades. Other than his crocodile refs and a few mountain range names, I’m clueless and nigh to sporting a toothless grin :-D.

      I was hoping Goofy or someone might throw out some ideas.

  10. Forrest you put a lot of effort into these stories/posts. Thank you! Quite the exploration you’ve done. I had the pleasure of touring a dinosaur dig site once. Seeing those old bones peering out of the ground does something to you it’s hard to explain. I like your pictures. Thanks.

  11. Forrest you put a lot of effort into these stories/posts. Thank you! Quite the exploration you’ve done. I had the pleasure of touring a dinosaur dig site once. Seeing those old bones peering out of the ground does something to you it’s hard to explain. I like your pictures. Thanks.

  12. Thinking back I seem to recall Forrest saying start at the beginning. “As I have gone alone in there. ” Believe it or not I think this is the starting point.
    For me it is telling me the path may be narrow and difficult to find.

  13. That is WAY cool, Forrest. I found some dinosaur bone fragments with the gem and mineral club many years ago, but nothing as cool as a mammoth tusk. If I ever get a studio one day I’d love to make custom knives with mammoth ivory and damascus steel. I’m sure you could get that incredible ivory stabilized. Maybe one day I could even make knife handles and blades out of “other” metals…like meteorites. 🙂 That would be the bomb.

    If you ever feel like you want to go find more tusks or that mammoth skull just tell me where you want me to dig. I’ll send you my email address if you ever feel like it. I could use the exercise (…and healthier eating habits). In fact, you’ll have my mailing address because I’m sending a SASE before Jan. 5. My wife is working on an ornament as I type this, also. She was laughing as she was working on it so I asked her why and she said, “It’s cute”. So I went over there to see it…and she’s right. 🙂 I hope to have an ornament made soon as well.

    Thank You Kind Sir! I envy your adventures and adventurous spirit.

  14. It flows so naturally, woven into each scrapbook the very fiber is the hint. Lovely just lovely. Never one to let his guard down. Take another look Goofy it’s all here. Oh I almost forgot I have to say IMO

    • Well Search, you lost me. But that’s not hard to do. What’s flowing naturally and woven into the Scrapbooks? The fiber is the hint and apparently lovely?

      I know about fiber; the wife said I needed to eat more fiber so I’ve been ordering double lettuce on my cheese burgers.

    • Hey, Goofy. Doubling down on the lettuce is a great idea. You can also try cutting the bacon in half. That way it all fits inside the bun without hanging out like love handles…or walrus blubber…Goo Goo G’joob! 🙂

  15. Looking sharp times two! If you draw me a map I’ll go get that skull for you when I turn 42 this summer. Read my resume and see if I match the job description:

    23kachinas resume

    – Grew up on a cattle ranch with a “crick” running through it
    – Freakishly strong latissimus dorsi from changing sprinklers for irrigation
    – Seven blue ribbon steers at county fair so I’m not afraid of cattle
    – Carries heavy things on back in inclement weather (don’t ask, just trust me)
    – Keen eye for maps and geography
    – My little brother can operate heavy machinery and guns while drinking beer

    • …hummm, lets see. One nearly complete tusk weighed 70#. Guessing if the skull was fossilized, it would weigh a tad more. But Fenn told me that it’s the protein, in and amongst bones which causes them to rot away. See his 3 San Lazaro clips under fish videos

    • @ 23kachinas – nice resume’ I believe Forrest would hire someone who knows that a crick runs through the meadow, not your neck. I had to Wicki your muscle group qualifications. Your 4-H days served you well. My question is why wait until you turn 42? No time like the present. Warren Miller (of the ski movies) always said, “why wait until next year, you’ll just be another year older.”

  16. What an amazing find! How different the climate was then – ice age! I would love to see the landscape of the southwest during that time. The latest findings now suggest that these great animals may not have been taken out by Clovis hunters, but a massive comet impact around 12,900 years ago that probably hit the ice sheet. It is a controversial theory, but is gaining ground:

  17. This is fascinating, Taphonomy science was an area I have always wanted to understand. Slow moving waters makes a world of difference. I have a few pieces in my front yard that I found. Got to love the Rocky Mountains.

  18. Wow..Forrest, its a pity you didn’t discover the ribs with the spear head embedded in it…Still a pretty good find though. Just touching the remains of an animal so majestic would be out of this world ..

  19. If the large meat cutting tool did not inflict the demise of this enormous mammoth, surely the itty bitty arrowhead did not play such a role either…?

  20. I received my piece and it smells a little like dirt, but has a weird smell. I cleaned it with warm water to get the dirt off, but not too much to get it perfectly clean. It is still moist even though I dried it and I wonder how long it will seem moist. On one side, it looks like elephant skin (for those who know what that looks like). On the other side it looks almost smooth. It is a diamond in shape and each of the edges are different colors and shapes. One edge you can see the layers. A layer close to the top sticks out further than the rest. The most interesting things about it are the smell and the moistness that is staying. Thank you Forrest!

  21. As leader of our search group (all family but from 2 states) I feel bad that I did a mad rush to the post office late Monday night in order to send everyone’s Self-addresses stamped envelop out. They were all calling me making sure I got it done since I told them all it needed to be postmarked Jan 5, 2015. I told them it must be some 15-20-15 thing. So in my rush at 11pm at the post office (I worked late because if being out for 4weeks due to car crash) I sent them all out 2 day priority mail That way it wouldn’t take long to get to Mr. Fenn.
    Lol. Then I came home and re-read the post and saw that it said “or earlier”. It is so said I read all that he says so carefully and yet I missed those two little words.
    Well I am not going to tell any of the team about them. Right now I am the hero for rushing up there and getting it done.

  22. I’ve been racking my brain ever since this scrapbook was posted. I’ve seen one of these somewhere in the desert here. Which is not surprising they’ve found a lot of these in this area. It looked exactly like the 2nd and 3rd picture above. Partially exposed with pieces laying around. I know my sister was with me. It caught my eye and I asked my sister “what do you think that is?” I kicked at it knocking off more pieces. I said “it doesn’t look like a piece of wood or a tree stump look how it’s white inside”. Anyway, for the life of me I still can’t remember the exact location. I would just love to go back and verify it.

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