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Terminal Fracture

Work brought me back to the Greenville area so I was able get a couple short trips in at the Green Mill Run (GMR) late last week.  I made it to the creek late one evening and decided to try some new territory south of the Green Spring Park area.  I met a couple who had a unique system of “extracting” teeth from the creek.  The wife sat on a chair by the edge of a gravel island and the husband would stand in the creek and shovel water / gravel up on the edge of the bank and she would pick the teeth out after the water subsided from the bank.   This was definitely a two person system and judging by their haul (about a half of a quart Ziplock full) appeared to be rather a productive / efficient way to collect teeth, no screens needed.   I found a gravel island / area further down and decided to set up shop.  In the limited amount of daylight left, I managed to find some meager finds before heading to a local hotel.


The next morning I got up bright and early after debating if I should take advantage of the few opportunities to sleep in.   With a couple cups of coffee in me, I was off to the Run.   I got geared up and after a good twenty minute walk along the park’s walkway and through the creek I started my quest for fossils.   I found a nice gravel island and started my dig.   After my third shovel load…. the unimaginable happened….   “CRACK”.    For an instant I though it was my lower back.  But soon realized my fossil hunting friend just had a terminal fracture and died in my hands. 


There are a lot of sentimental memories with this shovel for it used to be my Grandfather’s and later came into my father’s possession after my grandfather’s passing.   My dad ended up giving it to me some time back.  You know that a spade shovel has had some use when it starts to morph into a flat edge shovel.  Oh the stories that shovel could tell.  How many potatoes, peanuts, beets and carrots he has dug up for my grandpa.  All the gardening / landscaping projects he has completed for my dad and I.   Well, I retired his gardening days and utilized him mainly for slinging gravel at the GMR for the past two years.  


I almost lost him on one of my first trips there.  I (stupidly) tried to put in by the 10th Street Bridge after an area rain storm not realizing how dangerously high the water levels got.  As I put my shovel in to test the depth, the rushing water grabbed the blade and took it from my hands.  I watched in horror as it disappeared into the murky brown depths.   About three months later, to my surprise, I found him in the creek close to where I lost him.   I believe my Grandfather was looking out for me in heaven.  At the time I tried to put in there, I noted that the water level went up to the top exposed roots of this large sycamore tree.  The depth of the water to the bottom from this point was well over six feet.  It still makes me sick today thinking what would have happened if I went in the creek there and if my feet got tangled up in the roots. 


My fossil hunting friend was there for my first ever fossil shark tooth found at the Run, the first crow, the first goblin, the first tiger, the first mako, the first snaggletooth, the first sawfish, the first pycnodont, the first cookie, the numerous belemnites and who could ever forget when he scooped out the 2.5 inch great white…his proudest moment.   As I sobbed holding my new short Bo Staff, I soon realized it would be very unlikely that I would encounter any Green Mill Run ninjas to put my shidokan skills to test.  So I picked up the Ingersoll No. 2 blade, packed up and headed back to my car. 


After the 20 minute walk I came up onto some park staff who directed me to the nearest shovel outlet.   I arrived at Walmart only to find they were out of spade shovels.  Can anything else go wrong I thought?  The employee directed me to the Home Depot and I finally located a shovel worth replacement.  I went through the self check out and the damn thing wouldn’t scan.   The “assistant” tried to help and even tried to punch in the UPC code.  She ended up having to go back to the shovel display to get some additional code number.   After an apology for the wait in addition to 10% off for my inconvenience, I was back to the Run and re-geared for battle.


After another 20 minute déjà vu walk I was back in the creek to screen out the usual suspects with only a couple of great whites found.  The GWs were “decent” finds if you don’t factor in the typical worn roots and smaller size.  I also found a decent tiger, some fat Devil Toenails (Gryphaea convexa) and some coinage (quarter and four pennies).


Then to my amazement I flopped a Meg in the basket.  This has to be a saddest looking Meg to most of you, especially when you admire the gorgeous 1.8% of the enamel left on it.  The root was, for the most part, complete in addition to the general  “shape” of the tooth.  I am now the proud owner of my largest found Meg, just shy over 3”.   Yeah, part of the 3” plus Meg club.  My daughters were later impressed with my find, which put an additional smile on my face.  These teeth always look bigger in my youngest daughter’s hand.   In addition, there was also a nice fat lower GW in the same screen that would have put icing on the find if only it didn’t have the feeding tip damage.  With that I made it back to the hotel for a quick shower before my noon checkout.


I plan on fixing my old fossil hunting friend, but will keep a back up “buddy” in the car next time.





Location Green Mill Run, North Carolina, USA

Date Added9/8/2009

The Haul
Meg Screen
My Broken Friend

1/2011 GMR trip, not exactly kid friendly.
1/2011 GMR trip, not exactly kid friendly.
(Great) White Saturday
(Great) White Saturday
It's been a while... 11/23/10

- 9/9/2009
Reviewer : Daryl from Maryland United States
Total Rating : 10
The best shovel story ever! Gramps would be proud. I hate the roots on that tree...I've tripped over them before while navigating around the perimeter there. Nice finds, especially the crowsharks - they are the rarer S. bassini species. Content Quality : 10 of 10

Drool Quotient : 10 of 10

Picture Quality : 10 of 10
VOTE! Agree  Disagree 

Great Story - 9/10/2009
Reviewer : MikeDOTB from North Carolina United States
Total Rating : 10
I think its been over a month since I have been to GMR. You did pretty well and I am sorry about your shovel. I think going downstream from Green Springs leads you into the shovel danger area. My first shovel that I used for fossil hunting met its end below the bridge. Nice Meg, its a shame when they dont come with enamel. But its the usual wear and tear. That lower GW is awesome. Lower great whites are rare for me. I think I only have like three. And two are busted. Congrats on the finds and my condolences for the shovel! Content Quality : 10 of 10

Drool Quotient : 10 of 10

Picture Quality : 10 of 10
VOTE! Agree  Disagree 

- 9/12/2009
Reviewer : Govinn from Virginia United States
Total Rating : 10
Great story Brad, and I'm sorry for your loss. Content Quality : 10 of 10

Drool Quotient : 10 of 10

Picture Quality : 10 of 10
VOTE! Agree  Disagree 

Nice Digs, cool story - 9/17/2009
Reviewer : bsmarrella from
Total Rating : 10
The run has consumed a few of my shovels as well---The coinage was probably from me- I always throw any spare change from my pockets into the run in offerance to the fossil gods to insure a good day's worth of finds --Brian Content Quality : 10 of 10

Drool Quotient : 10 of 10

Picture Quality : 10 of 10
VOTE! Agree  Disagree 

Nice Meg - 9/23/2009
Reviewer : makoboy from
Total Rating : 8.333
Nice Meg Brad! Those are usually reserved for the "King of Fossils" at GMR. Content Quality : 10 of 10

Drool Quotient : 5 of 10

Picture Quality : 10 of 10
VOTE! Agree  Disagree 





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