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NCPhilip

Trilobite Trip to New York (and Pennsylvania)

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NCPhilip

Hello all!

 

We are planning a trip (with a stop in Pennsylvania) to New York this May to hunt for Trilobites and could use lots of advice. We live in North Carolina, so it is a bit of a haul and we are new to trilobite hunting and to rock splitting fossil hunting generally. I'll lay out the tentative itinerary first and then ask a few specific questions. Any recommendations on the itinerary (additions or places to skip on a limited trip) are, of course, more than welcome!

 

Tuesday        Day 0: Drive to Danville, PA and check into a hotel

Wednesday  Day 1: Visit the Montour Preserve fossil pit ; drive to Buffalo, NY

Thursday      Day 2: Visit 18 Mile Creek

Friday.           Day 3: Visit Penn Dixie Quarry (1)

Saturday       Day 4: Visit Penn Dixie Quarry (2)

Sunday          Day 5: Drive back to NC

 

The big questions we have (apart from whether this itinerary seems like a good first trip for ambitious new trilobite hunters) are:

 

What tools should we bring? I know safety glasses, chisel and geologic hammer, but what about larger picks, prybars, hammers, shovels, gloves, etc? I've read about people "digging out" an area at Penn Dixie; what is required for that? And what is involved?

 

Is there any rhyme or reason to the pieces you choose to split? What do you look for in a spot?

 

Is there anywhere else "nearby" (within a few hours of anywhere on the route) that we should check out? 

 

What am I forgetting to ask?

 

Thank you so much in advance for your help! This forum has been a great planning resource for me and I find more great threads to lurk on every day! 

 

Philip

 

 

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minnbuckeye

I would suggest going to PennDixie first if you have never looked for trilobites. You will quickly learn here under the guidance of the staff. THEN venture off on your own. 

 

 Mike

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FossilDAWG

Both of the above posts offer very good advice.  As Kane said, access to 18 mile creek and the shore around the creek mouth is highly problematic.  The creek between the bridge and the lake has been posted and is enforced.  You cannot park and walk to the shore, not even if you stay in the creek and avoid stepping on the banks.  The creek is not a navigable waterway so it belongs in it's entirety to the landowner.  It is possible that under some circumstances you could collect along the shore if you can get there by boat, but as Kane also said in the spring water levels are high so any public land along the shore will be submerged.  You can still (or so I understand) still walk 18 mile creek upstream from the shore.  There are fossils to be found in that direction, but the formations are higher and well above the main trilobite bed.

 

Depending on your route, I'd suggest maybe visiting the Deep Springs Road site near Earlville (northeast of Syracuse), then taking the interstate 90 west to Penn Dixie.  That is a 3 1/2 hr drive, a bite out of a day but not disastrously so.

 

Whatever you do, have fun!

 

Don

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Jeffrey P

I agree with the above advice. The only part of your itinerary that's likely to produce trilobites is your time at Penn Dixie. Deep Springs Road Quarry that Don suggests is another good option, especially for small Greenops trilobites. Also be aware that both these sites produce a large variety of other Paleozoic marine fossils- brachiopods, bivalves, gastropods, cephalopods, etc.

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sTamprockcoin

I.M.H.O (& experience) Skip the Montour Pit and find the directions to the Seven Stars locality instead.

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NCPhilip

Hello all. Lots of very good advice here. I spent some time researching before replying, so apologies for the time gap. As I mentioned, I'm very open to changing details of this trip, so with that in mind, I will likely visit the Deep Springs Road site instead of 18 Mile this trip. I'm also interested in going to Seven Stars instead of (or perhaps in addition to) Montour. My one concern is that I can't find any information about how publicly accessible it is. I certainly have been able to locate it on a map, but the information concerning contacting the landowner that I found is 31 years old and so perhaps is no longer accurate.... Any help on this front would be appreciated. I certainly don't want to end up trespassing accidentally! 

 

The one thing I probably can't alter is Penn Dixie being more or less last. From what I understand, in May, Penn Dixie is only open Friday-Sunday. Plus I would like to break up the drive there with a stop in PA. I will play with the schedule some, but I think I will have to settle with the most potentially productive site being my last two days. That said, we would be very excited to find partials at any of the sites and we don't have delusions that at any site we will be walking away with huge numbers of Trilobites. A few partials from each site and one or two more or less complete specimens from PD and I'll be over the moon. 

 

Thank you again everyone for the great advice so far! If I didn't respond to your suggestion directly, assume I took it directly to heart, as I don't have any delusions that research is the same thing as experience!

Edited by NCPhilip

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Oxytropidoceras

General information about the Montour Preserve Fossil Pit is:

 

The Montour Preserve Fossil Pit 

A Fossil Hunter’s Field Guide

https://montourpreserve.org/wp-content/uploads/Montour-Preserve-Fossil-Pit-brochure-rev20190605.pdf

https://montourpreserve.org

https://montourpreserve.org/fossil-pit/

 

Yours,

 

Paul H.

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NCPhilip

Thank you, Paul. Somehow I had missed the field guide brochure on the Montour website. I do think I will end up going to Montour, if only for a few hours, simply because I want the park to get credit for two out of state visitors who have come for the fossil pit. Many parks’ funding is proportional to their visitor count and I want to do everything possible to encourage states to support and encourage (responsible) fossil hunting on public land. 

 

That said, I think I may have phrased my request for information badly and somewhat ambiguously. I should have said “My one concern is that I can’t find any information about how publicly accessible the Seven Stars site is.” Rather than the below: 

6 hours ago, NCPhilip said:

I'm also interested in going to Seven Stars instead of (or perhaps in addition to) Montour. My one concern is that I can't find any information about how publicly accessible it is. I certainly have been able to locate it on a map, but the information concerning contacting the landowner that I found is 31 years old and so perhaps is no longer accurate.... Any help on this front would be appreciated.

 

I’m glad I did though, as I now have an extra resource for the Montour pit that I didn’t previously have! Thanks again :)

Philip

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NCPhilip

Thank you! I just wanted to make sure, as I want to keep landowners with great sites like that well-disposed towards fossil hunters! I’d never forgive myself if my carelessness ruined something great for others.

 

 

In planning the trip, I’m trying to decide the exact week I’ll be going and weekend that I’ll be at Penn and I ran across this: https://penndixie.org/2020/01/24/dig-with-the-experts/

 

It is a Dig With The Experts day where they apparently have lots of staff and academics on site and dig a new trench and show everyone the basics and best tips, etc. 

 

Being a complete novice, this SOUNDS ideal. It also looks incredibly crowded from the pictures of previous years. I’m trying to balance those two things and I thought I would ask some advice. Have any of you done the PD Dig with the Experts? Is it worth the extra expense and crowd? Or should we go to PD the weekend before or after instead and have a more isolated experience? 

 

Thanks in advance! 

Philip

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FossilDAWG

I've never done the "dig with the experts", but from everything I have heard it is well worth the cost.  They dig up some of the trilobite-rich layer and you get a decent sized pile to yourself to split.  I'm pretty sure you have to register well in advance, you can't just show up on the big day as all the spots are sold and once they are gone there aren't any more.  @DevonianDigger works there and he can tell you if I am correct.

 

Don

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NCPhilip

Thanks, Don! I know they said the spots fill up fast, which is why I wanted to figure out now if this is the right route. It sounds worth it from what you say, so I think I’ll go ahead and enroll us tonight for the whole weekend and we can plan the rest of the trip around that. I suppose if it feels crowded and I decide I know better than the experts (haha- as if!) then I can always move away from that area, as I understand it’s a fairly large park, but I don’t see that being likely! 

 

Thanks again for the advice :)

Philip

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FossilDAWG

It is definitely worth it.  It is a lot of work to dig up the trilobite layer by yourself.  Your chances of some good finds will be much higher if you can work with a pile of shale chunks already dug up for you.

 

I would go myself, but I will be in Ecuador with a bunch of study abroad students that weekend.

 

Don

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Scylla

I have done the dig with the experts, dig by yourself and dig with a club (NY Paleontological Society and Dry Dredgers)

 

Dig with the experts is the best!

 

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NCPhilip

Yay! I bought our pass for the whole weekend tonight. When I realized they were going to give you a pile to split from the fossil layer it really seemed like a no brainer.

 

I can’t wait to read through your thread, Scylla; thanks for reposting it! Will you be going again this year? 

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Scylla

If I can, I will be there. Also visit Red Top Hot Dogs in Hamburg,NY 

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Malcolmt

Once again this year I will be at The Dig with the Experts for Friday through Monday. Make sure you introduce yourself. I might even be able increase your odds of walking away happy.  Scylla's son found an amazing fossil there last year./... one of the best found the whole weekend. There were many amazing fossils found during the weekend including a few museum quality ones. If anyone is interested in going make sure you register and get your tickets soon they always sell out . There is definitely enough material for The Saturday and the Sunday. I will be there on the Friday and if any of you are willing to work hard with an old geezer, I try to share a little of what I know .... and I pretty much guarantee that you will leave with some complete trilobites. I believe that to attend on the Friday that you need to be a member but that is a cheap investment for a very worthy cause. The other benefit is that you will meet a lot of really great people with a common (albeit a bit nerdy) interest.

 

 

20170828_183341.thumb.jpg.c9c669541ba866114b8b81deecbd95ff.jpg

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Malcolmt

Another one from Penn I ....... I think this one ended up in Japan

 

5e4614a3dc55f_Perfectbug1.thumb.jpg.795912afa9e182a7448f61c98932dd07.jpg

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Bguild

Starting to plan my Penn Dixie trip around the Dig With the Experts weekend as well. Last year was great! Definitely would recommend doing a day or two.

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NCPhilip
6 hours ago, Malcolmt said:

Once again this year I will be at The Dig with the Experts for Friday through Monday. Make sure you introduce yourself. I might even be able increase your odds of walking away happy. 

In reading through Scylla’s thread from last year, it’s very clear you are someone I need to meet while I’m there! 

 

And those pictures are beautiful! I’m practically bubbling with excitement. 

 

I think based on the advice above, this is the current schedule for the trip:

 

Wednesday May 13 - Drive to PA, quick visit to Montour

Thursday May 14 - Visit to Seven Stars site, Drive to Syracuse, NY

Friday May 15 - Visit Deep Spring Road site, Drive to Buffalo

Saturday May 16 - Penn Dixie DWTE Day One

Sunday May 17 - Penn Dixie DWTE Day Two

Monday May 18 - Penn Dixie DWTE Day Three, begin drive back to NC

Tuesday May 19 - Quick stop on the way home somewhere(?), Return home to NC

 

If anyone is in the area and wants to meet up on any of those days/locations, please let me know! We would be glad to meet some TFF folk on our journey (though it sounds like that will definitely happen at PD!). We can’t offer much in the way of expertise at any of these sites, but we’re young(ish) and hardworking, so you can push some of the hard labor off on us in exchange for your knowledge and advice. ;) 

 

Thank you everyone! I get more excited about this trip everyday. I’m sure I’ll have some more questions soon. ;) 

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Al Tahan

I just became a member of Penn Dixie so I’ll be trying to make it to the dog with the experts as well. Unfortunately like mentioned above 18 mile creek is not what it used to be. I tried wading the creek and it was horrible. The water levels are way to high on average and the lake shore isn’t exposed like it used to be. Just be prepared to dig at PD lol

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taj

Hmmm that was on my agenda , but unfortunately now it might just be in the worst possible timeframe as far as my visa renewal is concerned  ..... Usually how long before the event do you need to registrate before the vent is full ?

BTW is it the  Index Fossils of North America in the background of your first pic , Malcolm?

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