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Texas Kid-friendly Sites?

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So Spring Break is upon us, and the whole family is looking forward to exploring some new fossil/artifact sites around Texas.

I have 9-year-old twins and a dog that loves mud, so we're ready to be somewhat adventurous...

Can anyone suggest places we can try that are relatively kid and dog friendly? We love the North Sulfur River, and have had some great finds there, but it's time we explored some new locations.

We're based in Plano, just north of Dallas, and we're happy to drive a few hours each way, or even stay overnight if a site's worthwhile! :)

Oh, and what my kids want more than anything is to actually find an arrowhead. All these years and we still haven't found one... and they're not exactly common back home in England either!

I hope y'all can help us out. I know that fossil sites can be closely guarded secrets, but we'd love to hear of some new places to explore!

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Uncle Siphuncle

As you indicated, one of the best spots is the NSR as it has the potential to give up Cretaceous marine, Pleistocene terrestrial, and artifacts all in the same day. While it is hard to find sites willing to give up all 3 of those together, I did luck out and get a Bison bison skull cap, several Duck Creek, Fort Worth, Grayson and Woodbine fm ammonites, echinoids, and nautiloids as well as one good spear point or knife on the Trinity River a couple years ago running a small boat along 43 miles between Fort Worth and Dallas in 2 trips. These were both grueling trips probably not suitable for kids based on the amount of work plus contact with very nasty water. Your options open up if you are willing to target 1 or 2 of the types of finds mentioned above. A few options include:

Lake Texoma shoreline 1/2 mile west of Denison Dam for Duck Creek ammonites, shark teeth and echinoids

Lake Texoma shoreline around Loe's Highport Marina north of Fink on 120 for Duck Creek and Fort Worth ammonites and echinoids

Waco Pit near Lake Waco Dam for Grayson fm pyritized ammonites, echinoids, shark teeth, and other fauna, must call Corps of Engrs office first

Gravel bars on Post Oak Creek in Sherman west of 75 for Eagle Ford shark teeth, occasional ammonites and spear points

Hwy 21 bridge over the Brazos River b/w Caldwell and Bryan for Cook Mountain (Eocene) mollusks, occasional shark teeth, etc.

Construction sites in and around Killeen for Walnut fm ammonites and echinoids

This is a short list of several classic Texas sites. No real secrets here; these are sites that everyone knows about and visits but continue to support the collecting pressure. With a little Google searching you should find more details on each. I still say the NSR tops the list in terms of access for kids and chances of finding a variety of good specimens, but success hinges greatly on your ability to be on site immediately after flood waters subside, getting there during the work week if possible as many retired locals, commercial collectors, etc. seemingly live under the bridges poised for action. All that being said great finds are still made there. And get it while the getting is good since the area may be flooded within the next several years to serve as a water source for Dallas.

If I were you I would seriously consider periodic scouting of western Fort Worth construction sites for ammonites and echinoids from the Goodland, Duck Creek, and Fort Worth formations as they all produce profusely in certain zones. Any amount of exposed rock is worth a look. I'd suggest buying an Geologic Atlas of Texas map, Dallas sheet, from the UT Bureau of Economic Geology online for $6 and learning generally where these formations outcrop to help focus your search. You'll be a more efficient collector if you learn the formations by lithology, aerial outcrop, and fauna within each. With minimal experience you'll notice the obvious differences in ammonites and echinoids between formations.

If this all seems too daunting to do on your own or your kids aren't interested in multiple dead ends per good spot found, I'd encourage you to join the Dallas Paleo Society not just to attend their field trips, but also to make connections for collecting. It is easy to find people who know about sites you don't and with a little experience you'll know sites they don't then you can possibly guide each other around. Living way down south in San Antonio I was once pretty active with the club when diesel was cheap. I'm still a member but haven't been on one of their trips in a couple years. The club on average does a trip per month and some of the better ones include area quarries for shark teeth as well as walking and canoe trips in various creeks for ammonites and echinoids, some on private land to which the club has access. Your best bet in general is in accessing some of these areas through the club that are off limits to the general public.

You live in what many consider perhaps the single best concentration of Cretaceous marine fossils near a major metropolitan area in the entire nation. Have fun and accept the challenge of exploring on your own as whatever site info is given to you is often known by many others by the time it gets to you.

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Possibly the most consistent place to find fossils is at what has long been called the "Whiskey Bridge" location. For many years the Geology Departments of Texas A&M and Texas University and other college groups, along with numerous Rockhound Groups, public schools and many, many others, have come to Whiskey Bridge to dig Invertebrate Fossils and ALWAYS with success. Whiskey Bridge is actually the bridge on Texas Highway 21, which crosses the Brazos River, between Bryan, Texas in Brazos County and Caldwell in Burleson County.


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I forgot to thank you both for your suggestions.

In the end, Whiskey Bridge was just too far for us to travel with the kids this week, but it'll certainly be a future location.

We had a fun time at Lake Texoma, although sadly we didn't find any whole amonites. One of my daughters did find a very nice echinoid though.

Post Oak Creek has been a favorite of ours for a few years now, and this week it produced many great shark teeth, as we've learned to expect, and one very odd bone.

NSR was also quite productive this week, with a couple of vertebrae and shark teeth, but nothing really special.

Thank you both again for your help and advice.

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Don't mean to hijack your post, but I'm trying to do the same thing as you are.

We found fossils behind the Putt-Putt in Hurst, while geocaching. Sea urchins, ammonite (pieces), gastropods, and some nice scallop type shells. This was completely by accident. Now the kids want more.

Anyway, I keep hearing about North Sulfur River (sulphur?)

I'd like to drive up there, but was hoping for some specific sites (at NSR)that you knew were good for kids, plus any advice.

Mine are 12 and 7.

I don't have the foggiest idea what equipment to bring, dangers, how to look this stuff up, etc....

I saw a reference via a picture to Pete Patterson Park, but it is un-googleable.

Ladonia is also pretty un-googleable when you add fossil. Odd.

Any advice you can give would be greatly appreciated.


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