Sunday, December 11, 2005


Joshua Bradford didn't get to play video games because the arcade was closed that day -- Nov. 9 -- in Sauk City, Wisconsin. The 7-year-old boy wound up outside, looking around the Wisconsin River bottom.

The Capital Times in Madison picks up the tale:
Josh was on an outing with Bob Weiss, 63, a Prairie du Sac insurance man who was paired with Josh as part of the Kids Companion program, which is run by the Optimists in the Sauk Prairie school district area. The program is a local version of the better known Big Brothers Big Sisters program.

Bob and Josh were still new to the program when they went for what was to be an afternoon that included playing games at a Sauk City arcade on Nov. 9, as Bob tells the story. "They were closed," Bob recalled Friday. So the pair was driving down Water Street when Bob took a look at the Wisconsin River.

"It was as low as I'd ever seen it," Bob said, "I've never seen such a large area of exposed sand."

So the pair went exploring. Josh was picking up clam shells and other oddities, and Bob, who likes to fish, was finding lots of fishing lures. Josh was running a good 20 to 30 feet ahead of Bob, "so he could be the first to find things," says Bob.

Josh suddenly yelled, "Bob, what's that?" Weiss recalled. "I said, 'It looks like driftwood to me.'"

"No, it's horns," Josh replied.

The low water had left about three-fourths of the head exposed, said Bob, and with a little digging and tugging, the two were able to free the large horns and part of a skull. Bob at first thought it was an ox. An exciting find, but not an especially rare one. Bob hauled the find back to his car, which was a half mile away. "Holy cow, was it heavy," Bob said. "It was water-logged and must have weighed 50 pounds, but I made it."

Bob then made what was a very good decision. About a week after the discovery he took what would turn out to be a bison head to Verlyn Mueller, the archivist at the Prairie du Sac Historical Society. Mueller suggested they call the State Historical Society and that's when Broihahn, whose post is within the society, got into the act.

After taking measurements, he and fellow archeologist Steve Kuehn decided, based on the shape and orientation of the horn cores and the overall size, that they had a Bison Occidentalis. Although they have not precisely dated the beast, Broihahn said the species, a forerunner to the more modern American bison, has been extinct for the last 5,000 years.
A state archeologist says it's one of the best finds of the year -- Bison Occidentalis, now known as "Bradford Bison," in honor of the kid who found it.

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