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Sheldon, Iowa: Elephant Bones and Dirt Collection

An elephant supposedly died in town while on tour, was buried to remove its flesh, and was dug up to exhibit its bones. Or not. Maybe stick with the museum's Collection of Dirt?

Sheldon Prairie Museum

323 10th St., Sheldon, IA
Sheldon Prairie Museum. Five blocks south of US Hwy 18/Park St. and two blocks east of Hwy 60/2nd Ave. At the corner of 10th St. and 4th Ave., in the old Carnagie Library.
Th 1-4 pm or by appt. (Call to verify) Local health policies may affect hours and access.
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Visitor Tips and News About Elephant Bones and Dirt Collection

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Elephant Bones and Burial Ground

I went to the museum to see the elephant skull. After speaking to the lady in charge, I learned that there was never an elephant! Back in the 1940s a circus was in town and one of the horses died. They buried it in the park and put a small building over it. It has never been dug up and there are no bones/skull/skeleton!!

[Kim Anderson, 04/23/2018]
Elephant Burial Ground

An elephant died in Sheldon (I think it was owned by a local resident), and the owner asked the museum if it was interested in the skeleton. The museum buried the elephant as a means of removing the flesh, and two or three years later disinterred the bones. The skull is on display at the museum, and the skeleton may be assembled and displayed in the future. Just saw the skull on display a couple of weeks ago!

If you want more information on the Sheldon, Iowa, elephant burial, contact the Science Museum of Minnesota in St. Paul.

[Steve, 01/27/2001]
Collection of Exotic Dirt

Hills Park, in Sheldon, IA, is supposedly the site of an elephant burial after the beast died in the 1940s on tour. Hills Park is located just off U.S. Highway 18, north of town.

On another note, the local museum in Sidney has a fascinating collection of dirt collected from around the world. The dirt, collected by a local housewife, includes samples from the yards of the Buckingham Palace, the White House, Iwo Jima, Guam, etc. It's definitely worth seeing. Sidney is also home to a terrific annual rodeo and is across the river from Nebraska City, where the whole Arbor Day idea was born.

[Jay Wagner, 07/16/1999]

Nearby Offbeat Places

Hospers Memorial StatuesHospers Memorial Statues, Hospers, IA - 8 mi.
Highest Point in Iowa - Hawkeye PointHighest Point in Iowa - Hawkeye Point, Sibley, IA - 21 mi.
The Miniature GrottoThe Miniature Grotto, Harris, IA - 28 mi.
In the region:
Outdoor Collection of Windmills, Jasper, MN - 55 mi.

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