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Joshua Bradford - Real Treasure Hunter who happened to be a kid!

Joshua Bradford - Real Treasure Hunter who happened to be a kid! - Open Chests

The book Treasure Kids contains 50 different stories about real kids finding real treasures. 

Kids have found amazing items such as lost cash, buried gold, actual diamonds, fallen meteorites, ancient artifacts, and much more.  Here is a story about a seven-year old boy named Joshua who found one of the coolest fossils ever. . . .

On November 9th, 2005, young Joshua Bradford must have really been bummed when he learned he couldn't play video games.  Joshua, 7, was supposed to spend the afternoon at an arcade in Sauk City, Wisconsin doing exactly that -- playing high-tech games.  Joshua had been paired with a Mr. Bob Weiss, a local insurance agent, in the Kids Companion Program.  Kids Companion, run by the Optimist Club, operates very much like the better-known Big Brothers and Big Sisters programs.  And so, on that November day, Joshua and Mr. Weiss had agreed to meet at the local arcade.

Joshua Bradford - Real Treasure Hunter

Joshua Bradford - Real Treasure Hunter

Only problem was, it seems the arcade was closed, and Mr. Weiss didn't immediately have a Plan B for how to spend the afternoon.  Soon Joshua and Mr. Weiss found themselves driving around in Mr. Weiss' car, looking for something else fun to do.  That's when Bob noticed how the water in the nearby Wisconsin River was running so unusually low.

In fact, the river was lower than Mr. Weiss, then 63,  had ever remembered seeing it.  This also meant that things usually underwater were now temporarily visible, making it an excellent opportunity to go exploring.

So, Mr. Weiss opted for an afternoon scouring the water's edge, allowing Joshua to walk about 30 yards ahead, and for Mr. Weiss to hang back and look for anything Joshua may have missed.  While Joshua found many clamshells and other curiosities, Bob Weiss, a fisherman, busied himself with pocketing the occasional lost fishing lure that popped into view.

Suddenly, Joshua called out to his mentor to come quickly and look at something he had found.  Whatever it was, it was sharp and pointy and stuck up out of the wet sand.

"It looks like a piece of driftwood to me," shrugged Mr. Weiss, unimpressed.

"No, it's horns," insisted young Joshua.

Bob and Joshua began to dig, and soon freed the mystery object from the water's edge.  There was no doubt Joshua had just been proven right.  The duo had uncovered a magnificent set of horns with the animal's skull attached.

Mr. Weiss concluded they had just found the remains of an ox.  Not a bad find, but it would be nothing that unusual or extraordinary.  With Joshua's help, Bob loaded the heavy, waterlogged horned skull into the back of his car.  Later, he brought Joshua's big find to Verlyn Mueller, the archivist at the Sauk-Prairie Area Historical Society.  Puzzled, the archivist in turn consulted with Wisconsin State archaeologists John Broihahn and Steve Kuehn, who traveled to Sauk City for a first-hand look at the big skull.

Based on the size of the specimen, along with the unusual shape and curvature of the big horns, the two archaeologists announced the discovery represented the remains of not an ox, but of a bison.
Bison_Occidentalis _rare_extinct_bison

Bison Occidentalis

This was not just any bison.  Instead, it was the Bison Occidentalis -- a type of rare, extinct bison that scientists say died off some 5,000 years ago.  Only three had ever been found in Wisconsin (and none during the past 70 years), with Bob and Joshua's horned skull being identified as the largest Bison Occidentalis ever found in the state, and by far the eastern-most example of this species.  Archaeologist John Broihahn called Joshua's bison, "one of the best finds of the year, if not the best."

Joshua Bradford's bison soon turned him into something of a Sauk City celebrity.  Joshua was asked to do newspaper interviews, appeared on local television, and he was presented with a certificate of appreciation by the Wisconsin Historical Society.

Bob and Joshua have since turned over their unique skull to the historical society so their artifact could be properly preserved and studied.  At last report, archaeologists were planning on combing the banks of the Wisconsin River near Sauk City in hopes of finding more evidence of the rare Bison Occidentalis.

Meanwhile, Bob and Joshua's surprise discovery has been given a new name in the State of Wisconsin.  Folks are calling the wonderful fossilized specimen the "Bradford Bison."
Perhaps they should make this into a new type of video game.  Maybe one with a catchy title, such as "Finding the Fossils,"

Read more fascinating tales of Treasure Hunting Kids in Jack Myers' book!


What book about Treasure Hunts should we all know about?  Leave your suggestion in the comment box below!

1 comment


You wrote this blog very well. Very knowledgeable. Thanks for sharing this

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