Dating back to ~2003, a small group of Dry Dredgers has volunteered for the annual Dig with the Experts at the Penn Dixie site. This year was no exception.
For those not familiar with the site, the Penn Dixie Fossil Park is located in Hamburg, NY. (Visit www.penndixie.org for more information.) The Hamburg Natural History Society oversees the locality. Founded in 1993, the park is unique in that visitors are permitted to collect — and keep — all the fossils that they find!
The specimens are Devonian (Windom Shale). A large diversity of material is found: abundant brachiopods and horn corals; occasional gastropods, cephalopods, ammonoids, crinoids, blastoids, plants, etc. But the most popular are the trilobites: Phacops (Eldregeops), and more rarely Greenops and Bellacartwrightia. And even more rarely seen is Dechenella. All are typically black against the grayish matrix. Here are two examples of Phacops found on previous Digs.
The annual Dig with the Experts is held in May. An excavator removes the over-burden to expose the fossil-bearing layer. Some collectors prefer to dig up their own blocks of rock in the pit for splitting. But most who register for the Dig take advantage of the blocks of rock that are pulled up by the excavator and placed in piles on the ground surrounding the pit.
Experts (those with extensive experience collecting the site) demonstrate splitting the rock, identifying what has been found, and trimming down rocks with concrete saws to more portable sizes. This year, Bob Schacht and I were the Experts, along with the knowledgeable Penn Dixie staff. The number of diggers participing this year was huge: over 200! And in contrast to most years, it was a 2-day event, rather than just one. But there were plenty of blocks of shale available for splitting. And many of the Saturday collectors returned to split more rock on Sunday.
The experts also got to collect. While the Dig lasted two days (May 27-28), Bob and I were there for 5. I prefer to dig up my own blocks of shale so as not to deplete the piles prepared for the Dig. One of my finds was a 2-inch Phacops.
For the Dig this year, special THANKS go to Phil Stokes (Penn Dixie Executive Director), his great staff, and Dan Cooper for directing the excavation two weeks prior to the Dig.
The Dry Dredgers will be visiting Penn Dixie in June for a club field trip. In addition to that, you might want to consider becoming a PD member so that you can visit throughout the collecting season.