During the bitterly cold winter of 1978, Paul Barron brought an armload of firewood into his sister’s house on the Bosque River bottoms near its confluence with the Brazos.
A poisonous copperhead came slithering out, so he and his sister’s old man Eddy Bufkin were duly dispatched into the country with rat shot and instructions to kill snakes as soon as the weather warmed up.
That’s how the Waco Mammoth Site was discovered. Barron remembers his career as a construction worker:
I worked on the Washington Avenue Bridge , both of the new IH35 bridges, Mayborn Museum, Tx Ranger Hall of Fame , the Convention center,the Freedom Fountain, the VA hospital , the Zoo, went to TSTC, and discovered the Mammoth Site. Wow … makes me feel old!
His remembrance of the discovery is still as surprising to him today as it was in that long-ago spring of 1978.
It was spring of 1978, and we had a fairly chilly spring.I was carrying an armload of firewood across the living room of the house my sister was leasing, and a 2 foot long copperhead jumped out of it.My sister had 2 little boys, about 4 and 10 years old, and asked her boyfriend, Eddy Bufkin, and me to kill any snakes we could find when it warmed up. A few days later, we loaded up a .357 magnum with rat shot and went around turning over rocks and stumps looking for snakes. We ended up in a creek bed, and followed it upstream, unwittingly passing the property boundaries. When I’m in the woods, especially when snake hunting, I keep my eyes on the ground. Im naturally curious, so, when I see something different or out of place, I check it out. We were climbing up an elevation change in the creek bed, when a piece of rock, bone, broke off. in my hand. It was light and porous , and looked different than the surrounding soil , so I studied it a little closer. Looking around the sides of the creek bed, I could see large amounts of the same material protruding from the banks, somer eadily identifiable as bone. Judjing from the size, I was pretty sure it was either modern elephants or mammoths.There was a zoo nearby. I knew the folks at the Strecker Museum would know for sure.
If you listen carefully, you hear a man talking with deep respect for knowledge and the authority it carries. He’s a working man with a deep respect for family and the values that carries. What’s more, he is the kind of dude who wants the rest of the community to benefit from his luck. It’s a valuable commodity, and it’s not really for sale.
That’s what you hear when you listen to Paul Barron’s memories.