Students and faculty from Eastern Oregon University spent four long days excavating mammoth remains this month. About 30 students joined three faculty members near Prineville to remove the front quarter of mammoth discovered in a gravel quarry. EOU alumnus Craig Woodward owned the quarry, and immediately reached out to his alma mater. Woodward passed away shortly after construction workers uncovered the fossils, but members of his family carried his enthusiasm forward. They worked with university leaders and faculty to make Craig’s final donation official with a memorandum of understanding. Workers from Knife River Corporation had leased the land to extract sand and gravel, when they uncovered tusks about 30 feet below the surface.
Months later, they worked alongside EOU students and faculty members from the anthropology and biology departments to carefully remove the bones. Among them was anthropology professor Rory Becker, who said students in his introductory classes got a first-hand look at archeology in action. “I think a lot of the students were surprised at how much work was involved,” he said. “It takes coordination of many, many moving parts — plus, straight digging holes.”