There was once a time in Madera County, where a giant lake of glacial meltwater covered the valley. On the edges of that lake, from the Sierra foothills on down, saber-toothed cats hunted mammoths, and camels, giant sloths and giant bears roamed free. When those animals died, their remains washed down streams and were deposited near what today is the southern edge of Chowchilla and the northern edge of Madera.
At the Madera County Fossil Discovery Center, between Chowchilla and Madera, families get the chance to travel back 700,000 years to this point in time, and for the dads Saturday, the trip was free. As part of a Father’s Day special, they paid no admission, getting to take part in a free tour and a mock dig. One of these fathers was Ed Hancox, who came with his family, including his 6-year-old daughter Sophia, who was visiting again for the first time in three years.
“My daughter’s been here, quite a bit,” Hancox said. “Every time that I come up here, she finds something in the gift shop. She did get a kick out of it.”
Founded in 2010, and funded by the San Joaquin Valley Paleontology Foundation, the Fossil Discovery Center is a showcase of the Ice Age beasts that once thrived in the grasslands of Madera County. In fact, many of the fossils on display were recovered in the Fairmead Landfill in Chowchilla. They serve as a reminder to all of the area’s wild prehistory...