Day Trips: Horn Shelter Man

Mystery still surrounds ancient remains

Day Trips: Horn Shelter Man
photos by Gerald E. McLeod
Day Trips: Horn Shelter Man

Horn Shelter Man is an enigma wrapped in an animal skin and covered in 11,200 years of debris near Clifton. Scientists first thought he was connected to people in Japan; now they think he might have been of European descent. One thing is sure: No one knows how he came to be buried under a rock ledge on the Brazos River.

Day Trips: Horn Shelter Man

Albert Redder and Frank Watt, two skilled amateur archaeologists painstakingly excavated 14 feet of dirt and rocks in 5-foot squares to find the skeletal remains of the ancient man and a girl in 1970. Although he lived with mammoths during the Clovis period, HSM isn't related to the Native Americans' lineage. The find is one of 13 known Paleo-Indian graves in the U.S.

Named for the property owners where he was found, HSM was ritualistically buried with his head resting on a tortoise shell. Items found buried with him suggest he was possibly a medicine man. At 44 years old when he died, he was comparatively old for a hunter-gatherer. The pre-teen female next to him may have been his servant or concubine.

The Bosque Museum, 301 S. Ave. Q in Clifton, tells the story of Horn Shelter Man through a diorama of the burial and replicas of the artifacts found at the site. The museum also has an impressive collection of artifacts from Norway and the Norse community that settled the area much later than HSM. For information, call 254/675-3845 or go to

1,220th in a series. Collect them all. Day Trips, Vol. 2, a book of "Day Trips," is available for $8.95, plus $3.05 for shipping, handling, and tax. Mail to: Day Trips, PO Box 33284, South Austin, TX 78704.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Day Trips
Day Trips: Matagorda Beach
Day Trips: Matagorda Beach
A seashore with social distancing

Gerald E. McLeod, July 10, 2020

Day Trips: The Grotto, San Antonio
Day Trips: The Grotto, San Antonio
Man-made cave part of “Art on the River”

Gerald E. McLeod, July 3, 2020


Horn Shelter Man, Clifton, Albert Redder, Frank Watt

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

New recipes and food news delivered Mondays

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle