Big Bone Lick State Park
3380 Beaver Rd
Union, Boone County, Kentucky
The name of Big Bone Lick State Park comes from the Pleistocene megafauna fossils found there. Mammoths are believed to have been drawn to this location by a salt lick deposited around sulphur springs.
Ancestors of the sloth, bison, and horse also grazed the vegetation and salty earth around the springs that the animals relied on for their diet.
The area near the springs was very soft and marshy causing many animals to become stuck with no way to escape.
It bills itself as "the birthplace of American paleontology," a term which dates from the 1807 expedition by William Clark undertaken at the direction of President Thomas Jefferson.
The visitors center (opened 2004) features indoor and outdoor exhibits of fossils, American art, and a 1,000 pound mastodon skull as well as a gift shop.
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Big Bone Lick State Park was listed in 1972 on the National Register of Historic Places. In 2002, the National Park Service designated the park as an official Lewis and Clark Heritage Trail Site, and it was further listed as a National Natural Landmark in February 2009.
Big Bone Lick State Park features several nature trails, including a Discovery Trail that includes a boardwalk around a marsh bog diorama with recreations of a woolly mammoth, a mastodon, a ground sloth, bison, and scavengers feeding on carcasses and skeletal remains.
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