Texas Trip 10-25-2012

Eleven hardy North Carolinians headed to Texas for 6 days of non-stop collecting. The group consisted of: James Bain, Earl Guertin, Joy Herrington, Rufus Johnson, Ramona Krailler, Linda McCall, George Oliver and Diane and Bob Willis of the NCFC, and Kathleen and Walt Kubilius of the ECFC. Thursday, Day 1 – our first stop was to pay a visit to my good friend Chris Sampson, a local Ft Worth resident, who is moving to Florida and was getting rid of a large portion of her collection so as to not have to move it. (How many of us would feel the same at having to move tons of rock across the country?) She had a variety of fossils up for grabs at very reasonable prices, and I think everyone came away with at least a treasure or two and large smiles on their faces. Texas collecting is very different from North Carolina collecting. You don’t just go to one site for the day. There are too many sites for that! So you go to multiple sites and spend several hours at each and hunt ‘till you drop. So, first we headed down the road a bit from Chris’ house and spent a couple hours collected the dwarf fauna of the Cretaceous Pawpaw Formation. This particular site is known for its’ pyritic micromorph ammonites, and diminutive crustaceans. I think everyone was successful in finding at least parts of crustaceans, and several people found entire carapaces. Ramona was even lucky enough to find a shark tooth at the site. Next we drove to Justin to meet Roger Farish and collect along Oliver Creek where he has access on private land. The drive across the fields, through the woods and down into and over the creek was thrilling enough – and we hadn’t even started collecting yet! This site is Cretaceous Goodland Formation, with large Oxytropidoceras ammonites and innumerable Epiaster whitei irregular echinoids. Rufus found one of the rarer Salenia mexicana echinoids. Several folks banged out large ammonites, everyone had a great time, we hunted until it was getting dark and ended the evening dining with Roger and his wife Linda at a local place where we were serenaded by an Elvis impersonator – Joy was enchanted and Ramona had to dance (see pix). Does life get any better? Friday, Day 2 started out much cooler and a bit rainy, so we drove an hour south to Glen Rose, Texas and attended the Fossilmania Fossil Show which, lucky for us, started that day. The show (which is put on by the Dallas Paleontological Society) had lots of dealers selling fossils, reference books, etc. as well as several educational displays. After a couple fun hours there we went across the street for some authentic Texas BBQ – a must for the trip – then a few minutes up the road to Dinosaur Valley State Park to view some of the best preserved Dinosaur tracks in the world. After a bit of searching around, we did find some pretty awesome tracks, as well as a much less than convincing “human” track alongside that has been the subject of much hoopla and debate. The weather warmed up enough to get in some afternoon collecting, so we hightailed it to the Lake Benbrook Spillway – also Cretaceous Goodland Formation. Several folks found Salenia mexicana echinoids – the highlight of the site, as well as numerous gastropods and bivalves. Saturday, Day 3 was a change of pace. We drove to the Bridgeport area to collect Texas Pennsylvania fossils. Our first stop was at what we call the “Big Spine site”, at the Lake Bridgeport spillway. Crinoid “stem” pieces abound – even some bored, pathological ones, as well as bracs, large cidarid echinoid plates and spines, bryozoan, sponges, and a host of other fossils. The second site, only a few miles away, is known as the “Round Sponge site”, for the cool round sponges found here. We also found several crinoid cups and a few other neat things. The local police stopped by out of curiosity to see what we were doing and James found out the deputy was actually from a family in NC! The next two stops were duds, as well as a harrowing drive through the back country to look around a local fellows’ land that we met at the country store – but you never turn down the opportunity to take a look at private land – so several of us went back to the “Big Spine site” and stayed until the sun had set.