A surprising discovery that was made near Freedom in 1988 has been termed the “Find of the Century” in a special centennial exhibit now on display at the Freedom Museum.

A dedication ceremony is planned for 3 p.m. today to officially open the exhibit, which features artifacts discovered in an archeological dig at the Burnham Ranch located 10 miles northwest of Freedom.

Sandy Wimmer, chairman of the museum’s board of directors, said the ceremony will feature Dr. Don Wyckoff, an anthropology professor at the University of Oklahoma.

She said they are pleased to have Wyckoff return as the keynote speaker at the dedication ceremony since he led the archeological dig at the Burnham Ranch almost 20 years ago.

The ceremony will also include musical performances by Sharon Walker and Camille Holt, Wimmer said.

She said a number of key benefactors who helped make the exhibit possible will also be recognized during the 30-minute program.

“We’re having the dedication out on Main Street like they did at the original museum opening in 1976,” Wimmer said.

The ceremony is important, she said, because the exhibit is an official Oklahoma Centennial project.

And the exhibit is important because some of the artifacts discovered could indicate that man lived in this region around 30,000 to 40,000 years ago, Wimmer said.

In fact, she said the exhibit has been named the “Find of the Century” because of these important historical implications.

Wimmer said the true find of the century was a long-horned bison skull that was surrounded by several artifacts which could have been man made. These artifacts, if proven to be the arrowheads and scrapers they resemble, might be evidence that the bison was butchered and thus forward the theory that man was present in this area 30,000 years ago when the long-horned bison lived.

“It could indicate that there was people here much earlier than they (scientists) thought,” said Wesley Nixon, another museum board member.

Nixon said the long-horned bison skull and other artifacts, which also include a mammoth tusk, were discovered after a worker at the Burnham Ranch dug up some bones as he was trying to dig a new pond.

Wyckoff and his group then took several months exploring the area and uncovering more artifacts, he said. Some of the artifacts have been on display at the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History in Norman, but have been returned to Freedom for the new exhibit.

Wimmer said the new exhibit not only displays these important finds, but also includes an interesting diorama which recreates what the landscape would have looked like, depicting the flora and fauna that were present in Northwest Oklahoma 30,000 years ago.

She said the diorama is especially interesting because the more you look, the more you find. If you look hard enough you can even spot a rattlesnake.

“You can walk by one time and then come back a week later and see other things,” Wimmer said.

Another interesting feature in the exhibit is a small sandbox type structure which is filled with shredded rubber that was designed to resemble the red dirt archeologists explored at the Burnham Ranch.

Wimmer said there are actually small artifacts buried in the “dirt.” She said young visitors to the exhibit can then have their own archeological experience as they sift through the shredded rubber to uncover the artifacts.

Nixon said the exhibit also includes a television monitor which continuously shows a short video of Wyckoff discussing the dig and its discoveries.

The entire exhibit was designed and installed by Chase Studio out of Missouri, Wimmer said.

“They are well-known for their exhibits in the Smithsonian,” she said.

She said the museum board was pleased to have them visit Freedom and create the new exhibit.

“It’s quite a display,” Wimmer said as she invited everyone to come out and see it for themselves.

Trending Video

Recommended for you