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Andreya Goes to Quarry Hill Nature Center & Much More!

Posted by on August 21, 2014
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This was Andreya’s (Bob’s granddaughter 6 years old) last visit of the summer and what a day long adventure it was – I think she and I were both wore out by the end of the day! Lots of firsts for Andreya, three fossil hunts – two impromptu – and fun right down to the last minute picking of flowers from my gardens for her Grandmother Donna.

Andreya has been asking Grandpa Bob to take her fishing for a while now. A trout stream borders this property, so they dug up a couple of worms in the garden and Grandpa showed her how to bait the hook and throw in the line.

A.B fishing 1There were strikes immediately, and after several tries to set the hook Andreya pulled in a small Brown Trout!

andreyas first fish cuI gently took the hook out of its mouth and released it. No more bites at this spot, so they decided to try another spot. And along the way Andreya decided to try out the hammock and the tire swing.


tire swingA new spot and back to fishing and they were hitting! Perfect for a six year old with very little patience to get her first taste of fishing. Grandpa was showing her how to cast and reel in.

a.b fishing with grandpa

2nd fish reeling inAnd WOW! Ninety seconds and she had ANOTHER Brown Trout!

a second troutGrandpa decided to dig out the rest of the potatoes in the garden and Andreya helped. She said it was her first time she had ever dug potatoes.

digging potatoesI asked her if she wanted to learn to ride and with an excited nod of her head, off we went to the barn. Coco the “wild” burro adopted through the Adopt-A-Horse-Or-Burro program was cooperative – sometimes he just stands there and won’t give rides.  🙂

Big Smiles on Coco!

Big Smiles on Coco!

riding cocoGrandpa led, so that I could take pictures of Andreya’s first riding lesson! After we put Coco back in the barn with the horses, I asked Andreya, “Would you like to try riding Dan next time?”

Andreya looked up at the big palomino gelding’s head and said, “No!” I just laughed. Something about donkeys makes them non-intimidating. Is it the Eeyore stories or that they are like teddy bears with big ears? Or just so much smaller than a 15 HH horse – which is like sitting on the cab of a pickup truck while it is moving?

Dan & Colada in the Chatfield Western Days parade, 2014 as the Johnny Depp version of the Lone Ranger.

Dan & Colada in the Chatfield Western Days parade, 2014, as the Johnny Depp version of the Lone Ranger.

I asked her if she wanted to feed my very friendly free-range hens who had been hanging around us and she found that to be so much fun. They even leaped in the air to get the piece of bread she was feeding them.

feeding chickensAnd of course the Collie dogs, Gia and Jessie, wanted some treats too.

Then it was off to Quarry Hill Nature Center for a fossil hunting adventure! Quarry Hill, a city park in Rochester, is the only other fossil park besides Lilydale in the Cities that I have been able to locate in Minnesota. I’ve been there before and reported on it (Lots more pictures of the park and nature center here: but had never climbed the hill all the way up to the quarry. Today was the day!

rock at entranceAndreya at the entrance wanting her picture taken on a rock.

officeAndreya in front of the Nature Center building.

ceph at entranceAndreya spotted a cephalopod in the rock work at the entrance of the building before we even got in the door!

turtlesShe loved all the turtles in various aquariums scattered around the Center.

trex imitationLOL! A six year old’s version of a T-rex expression! That is a replica of “Stan” the T-rex.

snakeLots of snakes in terrariums.

more snakesMore snakes…

fossils at qhnc betterCephalopods inside the front door and more fossils in the main learning area.

aquariumsLarge aquariums with native fish.

hadrosaur boneA Hadrosaur (Duckbilled dinosaur.) fossil. The Hadrosaur is the only dinosaur to have bones found and confirmed in Minnesota to date.

bird watchingThen out to the bird watching area.

watching canoersWe went over to the pond area and she got to see a bunch of kids learning to canoe and baby ducklings!

baby ducks

butterfly gardensThere were lots of gardens near the entrance including butterfly gardens and a restored pond prairie planting. We strolled up the bike/walking trail to the cut off to go toward the quarry.

paved bike trails

trail to quarry

And then up a fairly steep trail going to the quarry at the top of the hill. Don’t discount the trails for fossil hunting! I found all of the fossils we brought home just walking the trails near and at the quarry!

flow stone on trailFlow stone I found on the trail on the way up, indicative of subterranean caves.

overlooking buildingThis park was once the grounds of the old prison hospital and has many buildings in ruins. This is on the west side of the quarry.

first quarry wallThis was the first wall of the quarry we encountered. Galena Formation with probably Dubuque and Maquoketa shale on top. As we were climbing to the quarry I noted sandstone, no doubt the St. Peter Sandstone. So this is the basic hierarchy of formations in this quarry, I believe, top to bottom:

Maquoketa shale

Dubuque shale

Stewartville member of the Galena Formation

Prosser member of the Galena Formation

Cummingsville member of the Galena Formation

Decorah shale – greenish

Platteville Formation – fine grained limestone K-bentonite layer

Glenwood shale may have lots of rose quartz

St. Peter Sandstone

This is what the formation map for this area says the layers are. So what you are finding on the trails as you are climbing may be Decorah and Glenwood shale. Once at the top you are in the Galena Formation and the shales that perch above it.

The quarry is overgrown with small trees and is holding water after heavy rains in the northeastern area.

wall 2Some areas are more fossiliferous than others, and a staff person said the primary concentration of fossils was on the west end in the middle from what she had been told. It was a beautiful walk around the wooded rim of the quarry.

on top overlookingLots of scenic overlooks into the quarry.

another overlook

rocky trailsRocky trails leading to the woods. I noticed fossils all along the trails and even picked up some loose bryozoan segments. So many others were embedded into large boulder slabs.

bryozoans on walking trail

bridgeThere were safe little bridges where appropriate. Under this one was a steep dry wash and I could see fossils below even from the height of the bridge. This would be about the area the staff person was saying would be most fossiliferous.

squirrelLots of small wildlife and birds. This squirrel made quite a racket at our approach.

wooded trailsSo many of the pathways are heavily wooded and perfect for anyone with an outdoor inclination. And even though the quarry was holding water, I really didn’t encounter any mosquitoes.

fossils qhncIt was quite the hike and I hadn’t brought my backpack. These are the fossils I just shoved into my purse.

Map Tri-fold.

Map Tri-fold.

Map of trails at Quarry Hill Nature Center.

Map of trails at Quarry Hill Nature Center.

After that hike, we were both hungry! I asked Andreya if she wanted a culinary adventure. She said she would try new food. So I took her to Opa! Opa! a Greek restaurant that has the best Gyros I have ever tasted. She had the Kids Gyro which is basically pita bread, french fries (Which I forgot that she doesn’t like and we brought them home and fed them to the chickens.), Gyro meat (A bit spicy for her I think.), chips and sauce. She filled up on the chips, cucumber based sauce and pita bread. And we dined al fresco.

opa opaAndreya napped all the way back to Spring Valley, but was ready to go swimming. So off to the pool we went – But oh no! The Pool Was Closed! August and we finally get hot weather and the pool closed?! But it was so she wanted to play on the various playground equipment.

at the playgroundAnd then we had an impromptu fossil hunt in the pea gravel after I started finding bits of bryozoans! And she got into it too!

looking for fossils at playgroundfossils at playgroundHere are the fossils we gathered from the Spring Valley playground on the south side of town. Mostly bryozoans, but this one I posted on TFF and speculation has run from the worn siphuncle of a cephalopod, to an Archimeades bryozoan, to the internal parts of a worn crinoid segment – so, a very worn, unknown fossil at this point.

unknown 1 cu another angleVery intriguing though, isn’t it?

Then I suggested we go to Masonic Park (Where Wolffish and I had seen the kids swimming by the bridge.), where she could splash and play to her heart’s content in a fresh, clean stream – and we could fossil hunt too. 🙂

mp a bestGia jumped in the back seat of the car, and I had her following with her finger on the road map as we drove to it, just 3 miles from Spring Valley. As soon as she saw the great white cliff she remembered the park and exclaimed, “This is my favorite park!” And she started talking about her memories of being here with her Mother and Grandma Donna.

I had grabbed my fossil backpack for this little adventure and had no more sat it down on the rocky beach to put on my water shoes, then I found a Maclurites and a worn Lisospira! Andreya was already in the water splashing and throwing rocks – kids…  🙂

I had never seen the water this low and decided to explore around the edges of the island that the creek normally cut off from access. What fun we had wading back and forth across the stream. Collies are not known for being water dogs and at one point Gia got cut off across the stream from us. With lots of verbal encouragement, she finally decided to brave the creek and come across to us. No, she did not have to swim, but it went up just past her belly and she didn’t like that at all!

mp working banks

It was a lovely walk with the towering cliff on the other side only slightly obscured by folaige.

mp cliffsThe Joe Pye weed was just coming into bloom.

mp flowersAnd there were very few insects. But as we got around to the other side of the island I slipped on a rock and fell into the water! I was holding my camera above my head and couldn’t get up! Andreya had to come back and rescue me by holding the camera so I could use both hands to raise myself out of the water – she was my hero!

But then we hit a path of burning nettles and without long pants Andreya couldn’t go through them. So, on an unexpected mis-adventure we started a trek across the island with Gia leading the way.

across island

Fossils from the Masonic Park hunt.

Fossils from the Masonic Park hunt.

I had enough fossils for that day and was good and soaked, so we decided to head back to Spring Valley and get Gia her reward for protecting us while fossil hunting – a free pup cup at Dairy Queen. Andreya wanted to try the new Ships Ahoy! blizzard and I had a Mint Oreo blizzard, then back home we went.

Grandpa had been sleeping all day as he works third shift in Winona, but it was almost supper time and he was planning on roasting sweet corn on the grill for Andreya as she had said it was her favorite the last time she was here and he got up and took her to the garden to pick her own sweet corn.

picking cornAnd I showed her the Native American Three Sisters gardens of sweet corn, green pole beans, and squash (Check out those giant leaves!) that I planted this summer.

3 sistersThey went to the store and got hot dogs as that is what she wanted besides sweet corn and while Grandpa Bob was grilling I gave her a real dinosaur bone from Wyoming (Thanks Jim – Old Dead Things from TFF!) and since we never found a Hormatoma for her this summer, I gave her a Loxoplocus bowdenii that Herb from TFF (Thanks Herb!) had given me and made it into a necklace for her.

Loxoplocus bowdenii, Bedford, KY, Richmond Formation.

Loxoplocus bowdenii, Bedford, KY, Richmond Formation.

After dinner, Andreya cuddled on the couch with Paris, my cat, and watched SpongeBob Squarepants until it was time to go.



Then she gathered some flowers from my garden for her Grandma Donna and off she went with Grandpa Bob.

flowers and car 055

A perfect day with lots of fossil hunting!








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3 Responses to Andreya Goes to Quarry Hill Nature Center & Much More!

  1. Sam

    While you guys were at the Quarry Hill Nature Center, did you so happen to stop by the trilobite ridge? I f so, how was the fossil hunting there? I was looking online for new fossil hunting areas,and that came up in my search, although I can’t seem to find much information on it.

    • Beverly

      Hi Sam, If there is a Trilobite Ridge out there it sure has been worked over! I take people on custom fossil hunts (customized to you) and also sell maps for fossil hunting sites in Fillmore County and in Winona County. They are only $5 each – so much less than you would pay in gas looking for good fossil hunting spots with public access! 😀

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