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Spent Shells and Saved Plants

An old trip…


As the temperatures these days creep up to the 90’s mark, it seemed just yesterday that I unloaded the gear from my car, in mid December.  I realized in my rush to pack, I forgot my winter jacket.  Luckily I had a hat, was wearing layers and the pre-collecting adrenaline was kicking in.


The trip was an East Coast Fossil Club expedition to the Hanson Brick / Boren Clay Products Quarry / Gulf Mine No. 1 site.  This now-abandoned quarry near Gulf, North Carolina still produces carbonaceous plant impressions / compressions in the yellow siltstone strata of the Late Triassic Pekin Formation of the Deep River basin.  The common plant fossils include a variety of ferns, cycads, cycadeoids and conifers.


My eldest daughter and I arrived tardy because the kitchen pass took extra time to get validated.  Luckily the trip leader was lagging around the parked vehicles as a result of misinformed directions to the site.  She led us down a meandering path, past a “local” shooting range as evidence of numerous spend shell casings on the ground.  I chuckled and wondered if there was a correlation with shooting ranges for the locals and fern collecting sites.  I observed a similar setup at the infamous St. Clair, Pennsylvania fern site I was fortunate to collect at last year.


It was cold, but definitely the right time of the season to collect at this Triassic site.  Other members who have previously christened their rock hammers in this formation spoke of under growth / poison ivy so thick in the summertime that it would swallow you whole if not armed with a machete.  And once you found a location to collect and set up camp, you’ll most likely have your ankles devoured by fire ants.


After introductions to other members and brief conversations, I picked out a spot to collect my first Triassic specimens.  Members from the left and right were giving out “yelps” once they found something.  Some impressions were notable enough to warrant a group investigation of said specimens.


My area was mute, and after realizing how labor intensive the clay was, my daughter took more interest in exploring the top soil layer looking for hibernating insects / grubs or nuts buried by the area squirrels.  Finally after what seemed like a half hour, I had my first specimen, with more finds to follow.


The trip leader later found a very fruitful vein which she graciously shared with others including myself.  After about 3 hours of collecting, I decided to make my way back home to my youngest daughter then pregnant wife, who was due in a couple of weeks.  She was gracious enough to give my eldest daughter and I that kitchen pass after several hours of bartering, begging, pleading and crying by both of us…… pretty much in that order.


Some of the literature / references I used didn’t have the greatest quality of illustrations.  As a result, I hope I didn’t butcher the ID’s.  Any corrections / verifications are welcome.



Location Chatahm County, North Carolina, USA

Date Added4/19/2010

spent shells
the group
pickin' away
Otozamites hespera
Otozamites hespera
Otozamites powelli
Otozamites hespera
Otozamites hespera
Cladophebis microphylla


- 4/20/2010
Reviewer : Daryl from Maryland United States
Total Rating : 10
Great father-daughter time Brad! That should have earned you some points towards the next kitchen-pass. Thanks for sharing pics of stuff that I probably otherwise would never see since I'm so hooked on the shark teeth. Just think, when your kids are older, that'll be that many more helping hands and shovels working the gravels at GMR etc! Content Quality : 10 of 10

Drool Quotient : 10 of 10

Picture Quality : 10 of 10
VOTE! Agree  Disagree  3 of 3 voters agreed.





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