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Vermillion, South Dakota: Skull and Bones of Hero the Elephant Team Field Report

W.H. Over Museum

1110 Ratingen St., Vermillion, SD
W.H. Over Museum. I-29 exit 26. West on Hwy 50 for 6.5 miles to town, bear right onto the bypass, then after a half-mile turn left onto University St./Ratingen St. The Museum is the square building on the right.
M-Sa 10-4 (Call to verify) Local health policies may affect hours and access.
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Bones of Hero.

Skull and Bones of Hero the Elephant

A town's entire supply of ammunition was spent bringing down this cranky giant. Report...

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Skull and Bones of Circus Elephant "Hero"

On display at the W.H Over Museum in Vermillion South Dakota, are the skull and bones of the former Orton Brothers circus elephant "Hero." The elephant met a tragic end at the hands of an angry town posse during a cold, rainy May day in Elkton South Dakota in 1916. The posse was so angry that the entire town's supply of ammunition was spent to finally bring Hero down a few miles away and some five hours after his escape from the circus grounds and his drunken trainer. The event became so embedded in the town's psyche that even years afterward, the governor of South Dakota proclaimed every third Saturday in May as "Elephant Day" in Elkton. Hero's bullet ridden skull, part of his pelvis, some leg bones and shoulder blades can be viewed at the museum.

The 30 30 Savage Army rifle (which had been the most powerful fire-arm that anyone could find in a hurry in the tri-state area at the time) and which was used to finish Hero off, can be seen hanging at the nearby museum in Elkton S.D.

[Kenton C. Cornish, 02/14/2004]

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