"If he had a toothache with a tooth that size, he probably just laid down and died."
This was one of several comments about the prehistoric animal tusks uncovered in May 1967 on Vergil Redden's land north of the Nolan County Coliseum, as dirt contractors were digging out an area near the stock pond so the pond could be drained.
Workers uncovered one tusk that crumbled easily when touched. Redden decided to wait for more expert help before doing more digging.
At that time, Dr. Al Densmore, Sweetwater dentist and Fred Howell, Sweetwater High School science teacher, along with several students, began removing the tough clay from around the tusk.
By late that afternoon, two tusks, vertebrae and shoulder bone had been uncovered. The group applied varnish to keep the bones and tusks from crumbling.
High school personnel said that the uncovered tusk was probably from an animal from the Cenozoic Era, Quaternary or Neocene Period and the Pleistocene Epoch. The figured the prehistoric mastodon to be about one million years old.
Howell said the bones were not fossils, but were the original bones and he estimated the shoulder blade to be about two and a half feet across.
Mastodons were woolly mammoths that resembled the elephant.
The uncovered tusk measured nine feet and seven inches and was nine inches in diameter.
Dr. Densmore said the remains were fairly well preserved by the thick clay surrounding them. The dentist said he believed the animal to be a mammoth, which were slightly larger than the mastodon and had large tooth structure.
Also found at the site were arrowheads. As digging continued, another tusk was found, one which was prepared with plaster of Paris casing it so that it could be moved out without crumbling. Also found were leg bones, parts of teeth and rib bones.
In 1972, a portion of the tusk covered in plaster of Paris was displayed at Sweetwater's Pioneer Museum. The tusk currently on display was originally about 10 feet long, but a portion of it broke off while in storage.
The Pioneer Museum seeks more information about the tusks or remains found on Vergil Redden's land or any more photos anyone might have that pertains to the remains found. Contact Betty Turner or Franzas Cupp at the museum by calling 235-8547 or go by the museum at 610 E. Third Street. The museum is open from 1-5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.