Site of the Cohoes Mastodon – Cohoes, New York - Atlas Obscura

Site of the Cohoes Mastodon

Cohoes, New York

A 13,000-year-old mastodon skeleton was found during the construction of a 19th-century New York mill.  


The historic industrial district in Cohoes, New York, contains a collection of red brick buildings with twin story towers, mansard roofs, and cast iron grillwork. This mill complex, called the Harmony Mills, was also known as “Mastodon Mill,” and for good reason.

When Harmony Mill No. 3, was built in 1866, the builders had no idea that during the excavation of the north section of the mill, they would discover the bones of a 13,000-year-old extinct male mastodon. A historic marker was placed on the corner of North Mohawk Street and Front Street, where the skeleton of the Cohoes Mastodon was found embedded 60 feet deep in the bedrock near the base of the Cohoes Falls.

When the mastodon was alive, he weighed around 5 to 6 tons and stood more than 8 feet tall. Archaeologists determined that he died at the age of 32 after a musth battle when his skull was pierced by a rival’s tusk. 

The bones of this great prehistoric creature did a little bit of traveling before finding their resting place at the New York State Museum, where they remain on display today. They made their way from the Harmony Mill office to the city of Troy, to the county fair, to Harmony Hall, to the State Cabinet of Natural History in Albany, to the State Education building on Washington Avenue, and finally the New York State Museum on Madison Avenue in Albany.

Know Before You Go

While visiting the site where the mastodon fell, stop over to nearby Falls View Park for a breathtaking view of the Cohoes Falls by walking on the footbridge over the power canals.

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January 15, 2019

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