A few years ago, a group of local volunteers dug up a strange object while working in a dry lake bed near the outskirts of Grangeville. Archaeologists for the Nez Perce National Forest recognized it as the leg bone of a mammoth.
That 1994 discovery at Tolo Lake led to others and soon the Idaho State Historical Society, the University of Idaho and the Idaho Museum of Natural History were involved. A cooperative excavation project was quickly organized and the dig soon revealed a mammoth graveyard of hundreds of skeletons.
Since that time, organizers raised funds to purchase a resin mammoth skeleton replica and build an enclosed interpretive structure to house this bony beast. Located on U.S. Highway 95, adjacent to the Grangeville Chamber of Commerce, this exhibition provides a vivid display of these immense animals and what this region may have looked like thousands of years ago.
If you'd rather view the real thing, one of the actual mammoth tusks excavated from the site is on display at the Bicentennial Museum in Grangeville.
The excavation of Tolo Lake was initially begun as a volunteer project organized by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game to improve fishing at Tolo Lake. The lake has now been refilled to protect bones still unearthed and provide enhanced fishing opportunities as originally intended.