This is a mammoth town. I don’t mean in size, but in actual mammoths, or sculptures of mammoths. In fact, Madera may have more mammoths per thousand population than any city its size.
The mammoths used to live in the hills above the Madera Valley thousands of years ago. After they died, their bones washed down the rivers, and many of them found their ways to what is now Fairmead.
Decades ago, when county workers began scraping away earth to make landfill cells — places to dump garbage — they found parts of woolly mammoth fossils and other critters, such as dire wolves, camels, horses and short-faced bears.
Today, the Madera County Paleontology Foundation Fossil Discovery Center on Avenue 21 1/2 houses a model of a woolly mammoth skeleton, and looking at it makes me glad those creatures are history. If they were here, we wouldn’t be.
Another place you can see a woolly mammoth is just north of Avenue 16 on Schnoor Avenue at the headquarters of Madera Garden Decor. There, right in front of the show yard is a gigantic metal sculpture of a woolly mammoth.
It would be a great thing to have for one’s backyard. But it is a big unit. I’m not sure it is full size, but it is big — at least as big as an elephant, maybe bigger.
If we had one in our backyard, the cat would run away and the dogs would never stop barking. Of course, the birds would light on it and keep the bugs off, as they do on real elephants. It is a beautiful sculpture, and so are the metal sculptures of dinosaurs and other big animals Madera Garden Decor displays in its show yard.
Then, over on Almond Avenue, less than a block east of Madera Avenue, at Madera Oxygen, is another mammoth, a sculpture by Fresno artist Chris Sorenson. This beauty stood for a while in front of the Paleontology Center, but a dispute over how much should be paid for it led to its removal.
You can see all three mammoths in one day, and you will find it worth the short trip to admire the sculptures and do a little imagining of what life must have been like when mammoths and Maderans were one and the same.