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Planning First Fossil Outing


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Hello everyone,

I'm somewhat new to fossil collecting. My son is in scouts and we've been working together on a lot of geology projects. We are planning our first fossil trip and are pretty excited. I assume our best bet is hunting for various ordovician critters.

I've done some homework to determine areas that might be the most successful (success would mean finding anything fairly quickly for an 8-year-old). I've combed through the Fossil Forum and found locations suggested by Bob Russell, JimB88 and others in the northern Illinois area. I've then searched through geological maps and google earth to locate a few potential sites with exposed rocks. So my possible locations for this first trip are the following:

1) Road cut near Byron

2) Railroad cut south of there.

3) Roadcut north of Rockford

4) Yale Bridge Road, north of Rockford

Any northern Illinois folk familiar with any of these spots? Any tips on what to be looking for?

We might try areas around Elgin/ Fox River. It sounds like this is Silurian and might be a bit harder to find something quickly. Is that right? Also anyone know of some other spots closer to Chicagoland that we should be checking out?

Edited by Neophytus Elginian
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Also, I think we'll be joining ESCONI (Earth Science Club of Northern Illinois). Sounds like they are a great resource, get us into some of the area quarrys and give us some hands-on tips.

Edited by Neophytus Elginian
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Sounds like you are well on your way to some impressive finds and great experiences.

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Welcome from MinnesOta! Below is a link to creating a chld's fossiling pack, this one is for a girl, but it gives you an idea. :)


I just posted an article in the General Forum on Children, Paleontology and Fun.

Yes, children have a short attention span. My grand daughter is younger than your son, but I

1) make sure the weather is good,

2) the road trip is short,

3) I have a few fossils in my pocket in case she doesn't find any (I just plant them when she is not looking),

4) I take a camera to take pictures of her at the site and with her finds in the field,

5) I have food for a little picnic break, and of course something to drink.

I make jewelry out of my small fossils and do that with her. She is a girl, that is fun :) However, the right piece on a leather necklace could be cool for a young man. Be sure to stress the "older than the dinosaurs" angle as that impresses kids!

I'm sure you've read the fossil pack info on the forum. Remember TP and tinfoil :)

Hmmmm, that is about all I can think of except to say Have FUN!!!! Make it a joyous, wonder filled experience and don't sweat the fossil finding as long as he is spending time with Dad, he will love it!

Bev :)

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Good tips, Bev.

And, I hadn't checked out the fossil pack info. I'll check that out.

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Rule Number 18b.46:

Post a trip report here so we can all enjoy your outing.

Edited by jpc
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Also planning a trip to Mazon Creek. I've been scoping out the best 'Spoils Piles' on Google Earth. I just love Google Earth, by the way. Hopefully, the actual collecting will be just as fun as the planning stage.

I've posted some of my Mazon Creek questions and plans at the link below. Mostly, trying to find a good place to find "Braidwood Biota" Ferns.


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