Moss Beach, 1907: Discovery of Ancient Bones As Ocean Shore RR Lays New Track

Story by John Vonderlin

Email John ([email protected])

Hi June,
The recent discovery of mammoth and other bones under the parking lot of an old store in Los Angeles has created a big Internet buzz. If you want to read about it you can at LA- Scientists-Reveal-Huge-Cache-of-Ice…
But locally we had our own related bit of elephantine excitement as detailed in this newspaper article from the April 10th, 1907 issue of “The San Francisco Call.”

MASTODON BONES FOUND NEAR HALFMOON (sic)  Measurement Across Hind Leg is Seven Feet Nine Inches  RAINS! BARE FOSSIL Farmer Winke at First Paid Slight Attention to the Discovery REDWOOD CITY April 9– The skeleton of some monster animal at “Winke’s Moss Beach Halfmoon Bay”  A portion resembling the hindquarters measured seven feet nine inches and had attached to it bones twelve inches in diameter resembling the vertabrae of a short tail. What appears to be a section of the leg, between the knee and foot joint was also taken out. It’s length is three feet one inch, and it is six inches thick, eight inches long and eighteeen inches in circumfrence. It weighs about thirty five pounds. Several smaller bones resembling foot joints were lying about the larger ones. The heavy rains caused a small creek to change its course and wash out the base of a fifty foot cliff. Winke had noticed the large bones for several days and dug considerably around them before he appreciated their size. It required the efforts of several men and a team of horses to haul the larger sections to a clear spot on the beach. The location of the find is near the route of the Ocean Shore Railroad and only a short distance from the beach. It has been known for several years that fossils are to be found in this county. A large bed of them was found on a hilltop on the Week’s ranch near La Honda.