Mastodon State Historic Site contains an important archaeological and paleontological site - the Kimmswick Bone Bed. Bones of mastodons and other now-extinct animals were first found here in the early 1800s. The area gained fame as one of the most extensive Pleistocene ice age deposits in the country and attracted scientific interest worldwide.
Archaeological history was made at the site in 1979 when scientists excavated a stone spear point made by hunters of the Clovis culture (14,000 - 10,000 years ago) in direct association with mastodon bones. This was the first solid evidence of the coexistence of people and these giant prehistoric beasts.
Today, the 425-acre property preserves this National Register of Historic Places site and provides recreational opportunities. A museum tells the natural and cultural story of the oldest American Indian site one can visit in the state's park system. A full-size replica of a mastodon skeleton highlights the exhibits. A picnic area, several trails and a special-use campground offer chances to explore the land where the lives of Native Americans and mastodons once intertwined.
Although a regular campground for individual campers is not available, a special-use area with limited facilities is open to organized youth groups for a small fee. This area features vault toilets, water, picnic tables and fire rings. It is available by permission of the site administrator.
A small conference room in the museum is available for rent during regular museum hours. Amenities include windows overlooking a wooded trail, a conference table with 12 seats and access to telephone and electric. Additional seating and limited audiovisual equipment is available upon request. Maximum capacity is 25.
Rental fees are $10 for one to three hours or $20 for three to eight hours. An additional $5 is charged for food and beverage cleanup or furniture rearrangement.
For more information or to make a reservation, call the site at (636) 464-2976.
Shady picnic sites with grills are perfect for a quick lunch or for family gatherings. A small picnic shelter is available to rent for $40 per day by calling (636) 464-2976. There are vault toilets, water fountains, a playground and horseshoe pits nearby.
Three hiking trails lead visitors through various points of interest at the historic site. Two of the trail heads are located in the picnic area at the first parking area.
Spring Branch TrailSpring Branch Trail offers an easy three-quarter-mile walk through a portion of the Rock Creek bottomland. The trail follows a small stream flowing from Bollefer Spring, past remains of the Bollefer family springhouse, loops through the lowlands and continues along Rock Creek back to the picnic area. The spring keeps the stream's temperature constant year-round, promoting an abundant growth of watercress.
Limestone Hill TrailLimestone Hill Trail is a steep and rugged two-and-one-fourth-mile trail that leads visitors along the base of a limestone bluff, up hill through an oak and hickory forest, across the hilltop and past an old quarry. In spring, the hillside is bright with dogwood, redbud and serviceberry.
Wildflower TrailThe one-half-mile Wildflower Trail begins next to the museum and guides visitors down a series of stairs to the bone bed. The trail passes by the Callison Memorial Bird Sanctuary, a wildflower area, across an old quarry, and down a limestone bluff and talus slope to the bone bed. It is estimated that three acres of ice age deposits are below the ground in this area.
A slide show is started in the museum every half hour beginning at 9 a.m. and ending at 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday. On Sunday, the slide show is started every half hour beginning at 12 p.m. and ending at 4 p.m. During January and February, the last slide show begins at 3:30 p.m.
From December through February, the museum is open Monday and Thursday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sunday from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. and is closed Tuesday and Wednesday. The remainder of the year, the museum is open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Sunday from 12 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. It is closed on New Year's Day, Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas.
From St. Louis : Travel south on I-55 to Exit 186/Imperial/Kimmswick. After exiting, turn right/west onto Imperial Main Street. Turn right onto West Outer 55 Road. Turning left onto Seckman Road will lead to the picnic area; turning left onto Museum Drive will take you to the museum entrance.