Beaver, Whistler, and stones

Beaver, Whistler, and stones
The photographer’s description for this image describes the beaver as “casually sitting back and munching on something and munching and munching . . .” On stones perhaps? (Photo courtesy of Steve Hersey)

The following is from M. John Lubetkin’s book, Jay Cooke’s Gamble, page 101:

“Whistler’s report makes the fascinating comment: ‘Timber was scarce and . . . [beavers] had used stones instead.'”
The Whistler referred to is Joseph Nelson Garland Whistler who graduated from West Point in 1846 and was brevetted a brigadier general during the Civil War. In 1871 Whistler, a Lt. Col. at that time, was in charge of the military escort for the North Pacific railroad survey. Apparently Whistler had a problem with alcohol which may account for his seemingly strange statement.

We have to assume that Whistler meant the beaver built their dams with stones. That, of course, is only one use the beaver had for timber, the other being for food which renders it highly unlikely that he was implying they ate the stones.

However, although I’ve never read of such a thing, perhaps it’s possible they did sometimes use stones in their dams. Or, could it be that Whistler was just “stoned?”

Anybody know of beaver building dams with stones?

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