CARL JUNCTION, Mo. —
The town’s mammoth finally has a name.
The 13-foot, life-size foam mammoth displayed in the Carl Junction Community Center since May was created by local artist Marv Dahmen to honor the mammoth fossils that were found 120 years ago in a mine owned by businessman Silas A. Stuckey.
Gary Stubblefield, president of the Carl Junction Chamber of Commerce, continues to hold out hope that one day the real bones will turn up again and be returned to Carl Junction. For now, the foam version is as close as the city gets to its mammoth find.
Dahmen created the replica years ago to display at an exhibit at the George A. Spiva Center of the Arts in Joplin. Since its installation in Carl Junction, the foam mammoth has attracted numerous visitors, including classes of elementary and middle school students.
Among those visitors was Carl Junction resident Claudia Cox, who teaches science at Riverton (Kan.) Middle School. She was accompanying sixth- and seventh-grade classes.
Having served on the Carl Junction Board of Education for 11 years, Cox is well-known for community involvement. Her husband, the late Marion Cox, was a member of the Carl Junction and Joplin fire departments, as well as the Metro Emergency Transport System. He lost his life in a kayaking accident in 2008, prompting the community to create and support the annual Marion Cox Softball Tournament that raises funds for scholarships.
After learning that Stubblefield was holding a “Name the Columbian Mammoth” contest, Cox jumped on the bandwagon, encouraging people to vote. Visitors submitted entries at a ballot box, by email and on the mammoth’s own Facebook page.
The names Marv, Dahmen, Silas and Stuckey were submitted, as well as Carl, Carly, Carla and C.J. Other suggestions were Tuskers, Mammoo, Furry Murry, Tiny McTinyPants, Mozart the Mammoth, Peaches, Pippin and even Lady Gaga.
“We’ve had a lot of fun with it,” Stubblefield said.
In all, more than 400 ballots were cast. The winning name, which received 176 votes, won by a landslide: Claudia.
As a bonus, CJ could serve as its nickname, Cox said.
“My middle name is Jean, so CJ works,” she said with a laugh. “People asked me why I’d want my name to be on a big, hairy mammal, because it sounds like an insult. In fact, I’m very honored.”
Stubblefield said that for many voters, stuffing the box with the name Claudia began in jest.
“But the fact of the matter is, she is very well-loved in this town, and that’s the name that really stuck. It fits,” he said.
ACCORDING TO HISTORICAL Carl Junction records and newspaper reports, the fossilized remains of two adults and two infants of an extinct species, Elephas americanus, were discovered in 1892 at the 20-foot level of Silas A. Stuckey’s mine on the south end of Carl Junction.
IN 1893, the fossils were taken to Saint Louis University, where they were cleaned and assembled and then sent on to the Columbian Exposition of the Chicago World’s Fair. They have not been seen since.
CARL JUNCTION, Mo. —
The town’s mammoth finally has a name.
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