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jualhadun87

Lilydale Park Twin Cities

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jualhadun87

Hello!

I wanted to pass on some information about one of the great fossil hunting locations in Minnesota: Lilydale Regional Park.

For those not familair with this location, it sits near the river in south central St Paul just a short hop off 35E. Fossil hunting in the park is allowed by permit, which is exceedingly easy to acquire and only costs $10 for 1-9 people or $25 for 10-99 people. You can order a permit on line or mail in for it. The park includes cliffs and outcroppings exposing a wide variety of Cambrian and Ordovician shales and limestones including the excellent Decorah shale from the Ordovician period. The Decorah shale layer alone is 70ft thick in places and has been exposed both via natural erosion from the river valley and due to quarrying from a long closed brick yard. Collecting is best done from one of three old clay pits used for the brickyard and is located a short walk from the parking area. Loose fossil and slabs of fossil bearing rock can be found in piles at the bottom of the slope or along the pathways and the Decorah shale in particular is VERY rich in fossil material ranging from trilobites to crinoids to bryozoans. Material is preserved in dense, hard, gray rock with excellent preservation of detail.

I have not been to Lilydale in a very long time, having gone when I was just a kid, but I do have pictures of a few items I picked up there. Note, most are worse for wear because of decades of me fiddling with them as a kid, but you can get the general idea. Pictures are included below. I am planning on a trip down to Lilydale most likely in June for a day or two at most and will be purchasing a permit for at least 9 people, even though I will only be bringing a few. If anyone is interested in joining let me know. I would also be curious to hear from anyone else with experience at Lilydale in this thread, so post away your Lilydale stories!


The city has a short document available that describes the area, types of fossils and gives maps and various other useful information:

http://www.stpaul.gov/DocumentCenter/Home/View/3426

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Auspex

I never heard of it when we lived in Wayzata; 'course, that was over 50 years ago... :)

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jualhadun87

50 years ago!! I dont know if those deposits had been laid down yet! =-p

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Jdeutsch

Sounds like a worthwhile visit-thanks for posting

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jualhadun87

Just a general heads up for anyone in Minnesota that might be interested, I having signed up for a fossil hunting permit good for May 26th (a Sunday). The permit is good for 9 people and it looks like I am only going to be bringing 2 or 3. So if there is anyone interested in joining in, feel free to let me know here!

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Uncle Siphuncle

Nice Dactylioceras from Schlaifhausen in your avatar.

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squalicorax

Just a general heads up for anyone in Minnesota that might be interested, I having signed up for a fossil hunting permit good for May 26th (a Sunday). The permit is good for 9 people and it looks like I am only going to be bringing 2 or 3. So if there is anyone interested in joining in, feel free to let me know here!

I might be interested. Ill get back to you.

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Bev

FYI, two children were just killed in a slide (May 2013) at Lilydale while fossil hunting on a class trip. My understanding is that the ground gave out on them while walking along a ridge. BE CAREFUL if it has rained extensively! At this point, Lilydale is temporarily closed to fossil hunting.

Edited by Bev

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jualhadun87

The park service called me shortly after the collapse on Thursday and said they were cancelling my permit because of the hazards and could reschedule sometime in June. Tragic loss for the two kids and their families, certainly highlights the danger, especially just a few days from when I was supposed to be there.

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Bev

My understanding is that now Lillydale is closed until Sept., please let us know if you confirm otherwise.

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thyrymn

My understanding is that now Lillydale is closed until Sept., please let us know if you confirm otherwise.

My understanding it is still closed. We live about 10 miles from there and used to walk around there all the time picking stuff up.

It never was clear to me if the kids were on the top and slid in or if they were on the bottom and it collapsed on top of them. The cliffs there are not fenced around; you should always stay one car length away from the edge of any cliff. If you are on the bottom, then you should stay 1/2 the length of the cliff away.

The other strange part if it is that there are three fossil hunting locations in the park and none of them are really around the cliffs. I usually go to site one which is the closest to the event, but still a good 500 yards from where I think the landslide happened. Site three is generally the best, but it is quite a hike and you kinda got to walk through a swamp to get they're.

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squalicorax

Thank you for the update thyrymn. Please let us know further the status of this quarry.

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jualhadun87

I have checked in a few times to try and get a new permit and they have repeatedly said its closed for the foreseeable future with no ETA for opening back up. That's why I am trying to find some where else to go fossil hunting come spring in the cities area (I am coming from Duluth so preferably in the cities or north of it).

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mitchellmclain

Hello all, I live in St Louis Park MN and would love to start fossil hunting as a hobby. If anybody is ever going in the Twin Cities area and wouldn't mind showing the ropes to a nubie, please shoot me an email (mitchellmclain@gmail.com).

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jualhadun87

There has been a flurry of news articles over the last month about the Million Dollar settlement in this case and all of the articles reference that the fossil hunting is still suspended with no plans to reopen. The fossil collecting permit portion of the website has also been removed. I am unsure of exactly how the legality of collecting works in parks, I know its illegal to collect in national parks and state parks, Lilydale is a regional park, which I think means it falls under state park guidelines, which is why you needed a permit. But municipal parks do not appear to have legal guidelines on collecting.

Since Lilydale is still closed, I am going to be making a trip to Shadow Falls in early July to spend a half day collecting and a half day at the Science museum. Shadow Falls is a city park so I dont think there should be any problem collecting there. I know the park isnt the best for collecting but from what I have read and seen, its still worth visiting for basic collecting. I am just trying to build up a personally found diagnostic collection of Ordovician fossils and Shadow Falls seems to be a good place to do it at. There is a blog post I found on it from a family that did an afternoons worth of hiking and collecting that shows some idea of what the park looks like and the type of material you can get out of it:

http://maisielicious.blogspot.com/2012/04/fossil-hunters.html

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Zbar

I heard on another website St. Paul says no collect any parks and I'm sure they destroy the parking lot where buses used to be. Temp closed means closed a long time in government term thou it's the government and schools fault for lily dale and they are punishing the few fossil hunters....... I got in lily dale easily from upper park this summer and fall apparently the locals don't like their park closed. I had a great time collecting fossils from lily dale the two locations, the creek (the east clay pit suck) thou still fairly bare from all the kids. Hard to believe those idiots ignored all the signs of landslides as they are everywhere in the clay pits. Central pit was excellent fossiling mostly east part it is also the least dangerous as the landslide there ripped a lot off the slope and scor part of the bottom before deposit a ridge two feet high. Goat paths also expose good fossils. Central clay pit had a lot of new fossils exposed from falling rocks compare to east because the clay is very highly resistant even to strong rains to erosion. Hadn't gotten to west since springs are still very active even thou fall had been dry.

Thyrymn obvious didn't have good eye as I found a lot of excellent debroch and a few platteville gastropods at shadow falls. Pretty much areas from overlook to goat trails downriver to the next ravine. The main goat trail go through part of debroach but u have to look for erosion areas and goat trails going up to road. Plattesville section is dangerous and often unstable steep goat trails. Hadn't explore those that much because of dangers upper platteville tons of one Branchiopoda species and scattered patches of one gastropods species. Shadow fall ravine itself is over harvested and poor for me.

Hidden falls have limited exposures as only one main goat trail into ravine hardly used and if there were any secondary they had long ago been gone. Small debroch shale outcrop with net bryzoan pieces, I pretty much collected all the intact Branchiopoda there. One rock outcrop had thin fossil layer of mostly one Branchiopoda species that survived dolomite effect but dangerous overhanging thou I hadn't checked the other rock outcrop. But it's also dangerous as goat trail are narrow and partly erosion in places.

Minneapolis side suck in debroch shale either eroded away or they razed it. Near ford dam I found a nice platteville slab with broken cast Cephalopoda and second cast Branchiopoda species but hadn't found anymore since rockfalls had made area dangerous. Tons of platteville and St. Peter sandstone are the most common exposure on Mississippi making 90% of all visible exposures but poor and sparse fossils.

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Tiesta

Updates I had checked platteville section that faced Mississippi River at shadow falls totally nothing there. The only fossils in platteville facing the river seem to be one layer of Branchiopoda cast of one species with few but fairly common cast of the false turban snail I came up with the name for this very common species I found it decorah shale, platteville two different cast forms of this snail species. Odd enough the snails are almost always found beneath the Branchiopoda layers.

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Tiesta

Downriver from shadow fall park past another ravine I didn't see any decorah shale just some bizarre pure yellowish tan clay with the same high sticky as decorah clay which is bluish gray but there's nothing in it not even rocks weird.

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PennyT.

http://www.stpaul.gov/DocumentCenter/View/77438

Showing high risk areas in the park and parking lot work as of March 2015.

http://www.albertleatribune.com/2015/02/st-paul-to-reopen-part-of-park-where-2-children-died/ Feb 2015 saying some parts open for fossilers but fencing out other sections

Edited by PennyT.

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Tiesta

A lot have changed since then. Erosion activity is very high with each heavy rainfall. Blame the storm drains for the east area - normally the flow is one inch deep, but I have seen erosion damages from when it rains hard rises to about two feet deep. A large section of the slope due to poor erosion preventation is threating to eat away at the upper trail entrance to the street and might even threaten the street. A few weeks ago they erected wooden post fences blocking all the fossil sites but they are easy to get over anyway. Very few people had actually gotten in the site, mostly young adults thou I have seen one hobo in a tent at central clay pit during the warm season. The trails are not accurate at all, with many different goat trails all over the area thou its pretty much impossible to get to west clay pit anyway. Rockfalls and landslides have wiped out any upper accesses and if you try to go through the patches of vegetations that remains there's ticks from all the deer and heavy poison ivy coverage to consider while the swamp is inaccessible and rapidly covering whatever left of the trail. The central spring is retreating fast and hard, with only a narrow unstable goat trail being the only way to access the large cement slab. The falls are eating away at whatever left of decorah shale, thou not through the Platteville yet. The seep at central pit had mostly dried up but one is active further east where a patch of woods is going to fall down within the next few years. But at least a ton of fresh rocks are breaking open, revealing a huge diversity of fossils thou few rare ones so far.

The fossil site map is very out of date - the one listed for west clay site is just a little refuse mound with weeds covering it and not even one fossil left. And there is one good site exposed just across the east spring upslope just a little area. I wont even bother go in the massive landslide area that is visible from near the east spring falls very unstable area mostly till with no vegetation cover yet and the decorah shale is a faint smear. East part of the central clay pit is very rich in fossils and have the least danger so far - central and west part of central clay pit are very unstable - try to walk across the slope and you can see why - I had gotten my shoes sunken in the slurry mix because they are not compact and have high water content. The west part of the central clay pit is very fossil poor anyway. I only visited west clay pit once and that was a small part while the ice were still thawing out - its very beautiful to see - lots of blue ice covering most of the lower slopes . Found a small area that largely thawed out to fossil and pretty much low diversity, with the fossils most closely resembles central clay pit.

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Tiesta

Seem like lilydale have a lot of secrets. Just last year I saw some tannish soft shale on bottom of upper part of East spring. Now today I was exploring a previous inaccessible part of center clay pit when I found this fossil

Edited by Tiesta

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Tiesta

If this is indeed what I think it is, then there's a island of rifle hill or prosser at lilydale. I found more yellow rocks mainly no fossils in them. The yellow rocks clearly stands out from the drab Cummingham and decorah. It's too unstable to find the main bed of this rock.

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Tiesta

If you guys wants to check out this sit it's a bit tough to get to you have to go around the upper slopes which in the center have quicksand all the way to the edge of the west most section where it meet a huge hill that almost isolated where the old trail runs up the hill.

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