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Groleau-White Lake Mastodon Collection

Groleau-White Lake Mastodon Collection


In 1968, the Groleau Brothers, Inc. construction company unearthed a mastodon skeleton while digging near Cranberry Lake in White Lake Township. They donated the bones to OCC along with $500 for their preservation. Only one-third of the mastodon’s bones were found and eventually the decision was made to only reconstruct the head, tail, and left side of the mastodon skeleton.

Thirteen years later, the reconstruction of the now nicknamed “Elmer” began under the supervision of Dr. Jeheskel (Hezy) Shoshani. He instructed students in the class “Mounting a Mastodon” at OCC’s Highland Lakes Campus. This class spanned three terms and had around 50 students working on the reconstruction throughout the process. On June 24, 1982 Elmer’s reconstruction was finally complete and at that time he was the second such skeleton in Michigan.

Inspired by the original mastodon project, students searched for another opportunity to become involved with a similar excavation. In 1983, a consortium consisting of the Cranbrook Institute of Science, Wayne State University, and OCC sponsored a series of classes entitled “Dig a Mastodon”. These classes were offered at OCC’s Highland Lakes Campus and provided students with the necessary scientific background to accompany fieldwork at the Shelton Mastodon Excavation Site in Brandon Township. The students were able to perform a basic site layout, excavation, and preparation of all materials uncovered at this property.

Recent Submissions

  • OCCurrences, Oakland Community College (Oakland Community College, 1983-06)
    OCCurrences article on the "Dig-a-Mastodon" class offered by OCC, where students would learn excavation strategies and methods while getting hands on experience at the Shelton Mastodon Excavation Site in Brandon Township, MI.
  • OCCurrences, Oakland Community College (Oakland Community College, 1981-11)
    An article from OCCurrences on the OCC class "Mounting a Mastodon" at the Highland Lakes Campus and brief background of the Mastodon "Elmer".
  • The Spinal Column, Ken Fink (The Spinal Column, 1982-06-23)
    Untitled newspaper clipping of two students working on fitting a joint of OCC's Mastodon, and a National Geographic Society photographer preparing to shoot the Mastodon's reconstruction.
  • The Spinal Column, Rachael Dolson (The Spinal Column, 1981-11-25)
    Newspaper article on the reconstruction of OCC's Mastodon.
  • The Oakland Press, B.A. Modrack (The Oakland Press, 1982-06-18)
    Newspaper article on OCC's Mastodon "Elmer".
  • Oakland Community College (1983)
    This fact sheet lists information about the Groleau-White Lake Mastodon, as well as Mastodons in general.
  • Oakland Community College (Oakland Community College Press, 1982-06)
    This guide was published in 1982 by Oakland Community College Highland Lakes Campus as a companion to the exhibit at Highland Lakes. This publication details the Mastodon mounting project, the exhibit itself, information ...
  • Oakland Community College (2018)
    This is the Finding Aid to the OCC Mastodon Records. This collection consists of correspondence, factual sheets, “A Guide to the Groleau-White Lake Mastodon”, bonds and permits, a publication by the Elephant Interest Group, ...