This hunt was “fossil site site-seeing”!!! LOL 😀
Penny and I have been friends on thefossilforum.com for a while now. She had contacted me this spring about coming up for a hunt and we waited until the weather was just right – and was it ever! Blue skies and upper 60s, perfect for fossil hunting in April in Minnesota!
Both Penny and I have delved into the old fossil literature from the late 1800s and early 1900s. All of those wonderful sites, but where are they now? Well, I’ve done enough road tripping to find a few at least and she had made notes before arriving of sites she wanted to see if possible.
Tuesday dawned bright and we met up around 1 pm as she had a long drive from Illinois. I jumped in her car and we proceeded to do a drive-by of over two dozen sites in the northwestish corner of Fillmore County. We started out at Masonic Park with its towering cliffs, abandoned quarry, cave and spring bubbling out of the base of the hill.
Sites around Fillmore with its reputation for Indian artifacts. We stopped at two that were Caleb’s favorite trilobite sites.
Then we headed to Wykoff where I showed her the premiere gastropod quarry in all of Minnesota that the U of M comes to study regularly.
She was amazed at the number of sinkholes dotting the farm fields and just off the road as she drove from Wykoff to Fountain. I pointed out where I had found Waldo and his mate outside of Fountain.
We stopped in Fountain at the Village Square where we had Creamy Rhubarb pie (they have a reputation for the best pie in Fillmore County) with an oh so flaky crust. Us in our fossil gear with a formation map and road map laid out on the table. We joked how this may be normal in the Hell Creek Formation, but not in southeast Minnesota!
Then we got lost for a bit, looking for a site I couldn’t find that day. 🙂 But we did get to see some lovely Marsh Marigolds and as we both have a passion for wildflowers, gardening, and photography, we stopped and took pictures!
Then off down Hwy. 52 with me pointing out various sites right off the highway. Then to County 14 where I showed her where I had found Stucky and we visited (no entrance allowed) the famous Rifle Hill Quarry where Caleb had taken a picture and showed everyone in detail the formations in southeast Minnesota.
Sites along and near Rifle Hill that Forestville State Park brings its visitors too. Then to what we both think may be Wubbles Ravine!
And we came by via Maple Lane through the Park and ended at the Maple Springs Campground cut and abandoned quarry. Surely enough to occupy her for a while!
Penny dropped me off at home – I was tired – and went hunting until dark showing up the next day with a complete Fisherite (receptaculitid) and a nice Maclurites along with other fossils and even perhaps, we speculated, a rock inflected with real gold! She had a pyrite sample, but this looked like REAL gold! And yes we do have real gold in Bluff Country. There is even a gold panning class being planned this summer through the Eagle Bluff Environmental Centers Thrive program.
Day two was bright and beautiful and Penny hunted the morning and early afternoon on her own. Then she picked me up and we went to explore the southeastern part of Fillmore County. We stopped at several cuts along the way and checked out some new sites and freshly broke out shale. And Penny made the wise comment that, “Sometimes shale is just shale and not fossiliferous.” Yup. 🙁
But we hit a site near Spring Grove from the old literature that got her really excited. Oh yes, LOTS of FOSSILS! We both wish we could have taken this big specimen plate home – but two heavy even for the two of us.
And then we took a look at the only place in Fillmore County I have been able to identify the reddish ash of the KT boundary.
We fossil hunted our way back to my home as it was getting dark.
Wondering through the bluff we saw a lot of birds, including this turkey vulture.
And I recommended that she get a fishing vest like mine as it is so handy to have in the field.
And before she left, I dug a slip of this lovely double flowering blood root to send back to Illinois with her.
The next day I had a very excited message on my answering machine – she had found a TRILOBITE while hunting one of the cuts before she left Minnesota!!!
She was so excited that she continued hunting the next day in Iowa on her way home and found another TRILOBITE!!!