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Collecting sites around Maryland/Delaware
Posted by asdaven
asdaven January 05, 2006 08:42PMWhat some good collecting sites around maryland and delaware where you don't need a permit or belong to a club? I am interested in fossil sites, rock sites, minerals sites, maybe geode sites. I think most of which you find in maryland is fossils. Anybody know where you can collect patuxent river agate or patuxent river stone? Any sites within a 2 hour drive of the baltimore/washington area?
Anonymous User January 06, 2006 06:35AMHey, asdaven!
There are a number of good fossil locations in your area! Mostly Miocene Era marine fossils ie. shark's teeth, cetacean bone & teeth, bivalves, gastropods, castes, etc. If you map quest these names you can get directions-Purse SP, MD (on the Potomac, near LaPlata), Westmoreland SP, VA (on the Potomac, near nothing), Calvert Cliffs SP (on the Chesapeake Bay). I'd also recommend Jasper Burns book "Fossil Collecting in the Mid-Atlantic States" as a good referance for a few more places in your area. There is also a Triassic Basin that runs from VA to NJ so it has to cut thru MD somewhere. As far as mineral/rock sites go I'm afraid you're going to have to bite the bullet and join a local club in the area. Most of the best sites in the area are in quarries and they are reluctant to let clubs in let alone individuals. So, unless you luck out on a construction site your choices are limited to road cuts or private property.
PS- if you want more specific info on the fossil sites I mentioned just let me know. I've been to all of them several times (at least!) and would be glad to give you a couple of pointers, if needed.
asdaven January 06, 2006 08:04PMActually, I have been to the calvert cliffs probably 10 times or more but at different spots where different formations are exposed. I have been to chesapeake beach (bay front park or also called brownies beach), breezy point beach, flag ponds nature park, and calvert cliffs state park. Been to all of these places at least twice, except breezy point. Have also seen some fossils up in north beach which is a 1/2 a mile north of chesapeake beach. Bay Front Park is the best as far as finding fossil in abundance. Most of the stuff I have collected at these places has been small. Found a lot of stuff as far as different types of shark teeth and ray dental plates and some coral. But, nothing else. I have done sifting in the sand and just looking on the beach. Do you know of any other calvert cliff sites? What pointers do you have? Have been to Purse State Park once, found mostly shark teeth that look different from the ones I have collected at calvert cliffs and found some ray dental plates there. I have not been to Westmoreland State Park, but want to get there, but it is a 2 1/2 hour to 3 hour drive from my house. Do you know anything about the C&D Canal collecting site(s) up in delaware where you collect in the dredge spoil piles? I have heard of it, but I don't know where it is and what the rules are.
Anonymous User January 10, 2006 10:40AMHey, asdaven!
Sorry its taken me a few days to respond (been moving out of my old apt.). Let me see if I can help a little....IRT-Purse SP. The shark's teeth are different because they come from a different formation (St Mary's or Aquia if I remember correctly), not Calvert Cliff. There are two families that are overwhelmingly there; sand tigers and mackeral sharks. However if you go down river from the beach entrance, past the duck blind and around the point you'll find some very nice turretella caste (4"-5"L) and ostrea shells. The C&D Canal- I've never been there but it is mentioned in the book I referanced and the last I heard (3 monthes ago at our clubs annual swap-meet) it was still available. By far, the best collecting I've found in the MD/DE/VA/PA area for these type, Miocene Era marine fossils, is down here south of Richmond on the James River. Just outside of the town of Surry, VA. I've found everything from Meg/Mako/tiger/sand-tiger/cow/snaggle-toothed shark's teeth; whale & porpise teeth and bone; dentalium/olive/cone shells; Ecphora shells (big as grapefruits), chesapectens (10"-12"); placopectens (5"); limpets; and one lady with a manatee tooth she had just found! I'm even leading a trip down there this weekend for the club I belong to. I know its a long way from home for you but if you ever decide to give it a try just get in touch with me and I'll see about taking you down there and filling up your car for you! Check out that book by Jasper Burns I mentioned, its full of much more helpful info! (sorry about all the errors-I nevr did lurn tto spel two gud) Good Luck! Mark
asdaven January 10, 2006 08:18PMAny other tips on finding a tooth that is 1 inch or over at calvert cliffs or purse state park? Is westmoreland state park a good site? Is it any better than Purse SP? Is there a trail to the turretellas at purse state park? Do you follow the beach? Don't remember there being much beach. Have only been there once. Is it the same formation at westmoreland state park? Purse State Park is a much shorter drive for me. Richmond is very far from my house, so I can't make it down there. Could you maybe sent some fossils though the mail to me? Is the fossils down at richmond the same era as those found at Aurora,NC?
Anonymous User January 11, 2006 11:31AMHey,asdaven!
Whew! lot of questions! Let me give a caveat first-all my ref. books are still packed up due to my move so everything dealing with forms., geographical structures and the like are going to be from memory. Tips on finding large teeth? Patience, time, and location. Mostly PATIENCE! Out of the hundreds of teeth I've collected over the years, I only have a handful that are over 2". Understand that only a handful of shark species ever developed large teeth. So if only 1 out of 50 species in a given area developed large teeth what are your chances of finding one? Make sure that the area you're searching is the right age and has the right forms. for large teeth. One trick is to look for cetacean remains. Since the megs/makos co-existed with them at least you know you're in the right area.
Westmoreland SP is on par with Calvert Cliffs SP-few more teeth, few less shells.
For the turretellas at Purse SP-follow the beach and check for low tide schedual. It'll take about 30-45 mins. walking down river to start finding them in the bank or washed out on the beach. Its a different form. than Calvert Cliffs so the fossils are going to be somewhat different, as well.
The fossils from around here in Richmond are very close in age to the ones found at Aurora/Lee Creek/PCS (whatever you want to call it). Same era and even one of the same forms. crop out up here. It was a different environment however. Lee Creek's deposits were formed in a calm bay behind a barrier island according to current theory. The deposit at Surry seems to be from a fairly open bay with possibly an underwater channel or cliff face.
Anyhow...(whew! long winded for me) I'd be glad to send you some stuff. Just e-mail me with your address at email@example.com as well as any other question or comments that I might be able to help you with. Jolyon said he didn't mind limited fossil discussion on mindat but I think we're getting past the "limited" point. Mark
asdaven January 11, 2006 08:44PMWill email you- I have not been able to find any shark teeth past 3/4 inch. I only have found one that long. A lot of them are 1/2 inch and most of them are very small (1/16 inch). How is westmoreland state park compare to Purse State Park? Is it the same formation as Purse State Park? I don't think Westmoreland and Calvert Cliffs are the same formation or era.
michie January 20, 2006 07:01AMI'm a creek hog, myself, looking for fossils and native american artifacts. Not sure if you are looking for specific fossils, but there is a great spot along a creek right next to Rosecroft Raceway that runs parallel and cuts through Brinkley Rd. I have never been anywhere that yielded such an abundance of Ostrea molds. They are literally everywhere. Take your pick. Most still retain calcium linings, making them appear even more shell-like. You can also find other various shell fossils there.
Another good place is along the Piscataway Creek that passes under Rt. 210. There is a cliff face there, and this time of year (winter) is a great time to go to avoid all the nasty mosquitos and overgrown foliage. You can find tons and tons of turretella molds there. That's pretty much it. Also a great area to scout for arrowheads and such from the Piscataway Indian that used to have their seate there.
I haven't been to Westmoreland State Park over in VA, but plan to go there in the spring and look for sharks teeth. It's really too bad that there is so much private land off limits to fossil seekers.
Paul Howard March 14, 2006 12:50AMThere is a geological formation that runs roughly from the northeast to the southwest, beginning on the eastern shore of Maryland and ending somewhere around the Virginia/North Carolina border. It cuts through all the rivers in between. Our family, years ago, extracted a great number of examples from the Horse Shoe Cliffs at Westmoreland State Park and Strattford Hall. At different times I have since found similar material near St. Mary's, Maryland, Yorktown, Virginia, and Norfolk's beaches. Looking to go back on a search for more material has been blunted, since most land available to collecting is private property, or public property where collecting has become more strictly prohibited. I feel that there is an unbeleivable amount of material easily accessed without harming nature. Perhaps some of this will again be available to interested, serious collectors by property owners.
3idalienchild April 04, 2006 11:33PMHi. Sorry to horn in on the conversation, but the site outside of Surry, VA, caught my eye. I've been to most of the places in Burns' book but have never heard of the Surry site. Can you tell me exactly where this site is? I'd like to give it a shot in a couple of weeks. What kind of quantity of shark's teeth do you usually find? I'm used to picking up maybe 200-300 teeth in 3-6 hours' time at my favorite couple of spots (although they're not usually very large at all). I'd love to find a new favorite site, even though it would be quite a hike for me to get there (from northern Maryland). Thanks!
Mike Hudson July 04, 2006 02:56AMI used to collect tons of sharks teeth as a kid in my old neighborhood in Princegeorge VA . Now I have my own kids and would like to have fun with them looking for sharks teeth as I did . Now however the old places I used to go are occupied by houses or are otherwise on private land anyone know good spots we could go and have fun looking for teeth ? Thanks
asdaven September 30, 2006 11:16PMMark- Are you still there? Did you ever recieve that package of fossils I sent back to you? I tried your email, but it has been discountinued. Are you still offering the KY and NY fossils? I decided against the wv plant fossils as I already have some from PA. I am interested in the horn coral, bryozoans, nataloids, crinoid stems, and trilobite fragments.
Joseph Lipovsky November 19, 2006 08:24AMI have been to both the Henson Creek site near Rosecroft Raceway and the site where Piscataway Creek passses under route 210. The Henson Creek site is loaded as discussed above. There were also shark teeth in the creek. At the Piscataway site I found a broken 4 inch tooth. I live in Illinois now but still go back and collect when I am in town.
Doug Rambo January 29, 2007 03:09AMThe site referenced above from the Delaware Route 1 excavation is no longer accessible. The old Pollack Farm (as it was known) is currently a re-created wetland. The Delaware Geological Survey rescued a fair amount of material from the site for study and reference, but the zones that the mateial came from you can't get to anymore because of the reconstruction that went on at the site.
hunterwebb February 20, 2007 08:46PMHello....
I was hoping to get more information on the areas in Maryland that you have visited. I would like to take my children there to do some collecting,in other words,areas that are easily accessed are optimal.
Are you aware of collecting rules or restrictions on the beaches of the Chesapeake Bay?
Any information you can supply will be greatly appreciated!
Blanka June 20, 2007 03:48PMI've been hearing about this boneyard by the Surry... however I can't find the exact location anywhere online. Could you, please, let me know how to get there? I was even told that you can see the Surry ferry from there but I'm still not sure where it is. I don't know much about fossil, it's been my childhood dream to find some fossils so I've been trying to make the dream come truth. That leads me to another question, can just anybody go there to dig or do I have to be a member of some organization? Thank you for your help.
asdaven July 01, 2007 12:45PMhunterwebb- There are 3 places to collect along the chesapeake bay. The farthest north is Chesapeake Beach. Take Route 261 south of town and the parking will be on the left. It is called "Bay Front Park". Brownies Beach is another name for it, but the signs say's Bay Front Park. The parking area is not very big so get there early. From the parking area, it is a 1/4 mile walk to the beach. The only regulation on fossil collecting is that you cannot dig in the cliffs. You are only allowed to dig on the beach and as a courtesy, fill all the holes you make. Bay Front Park seems to be the richest for shark teeth and ray plates. They are more abundant there, but the bigger shark teeth are more rare there. But, I have found a ton of smaller shark teeth. The bigger shark teeth are farther south, but also farther south the fossils are not as abundant. The next spot is Flag Ponds Park. Take Route 2/4 south of Prince Frederick. Follow the signs to the park, pay the entrance fee, and park at the visitor center. Walk the paved road 1/2 mile to the beach. You can drive down there if you have a disability permit. I have found some of the nicest fossils here, though you are not going to get as many fossils here. I found a nice piece of fossil coral here! Farther south is the third site, Calvert Cliffs State Park. It it further down Route 2/4. Follow the signs. Pay the entrance fee and park. There is a 2 mile hike to the beach. It goes fast. Follow the red trail to the beach, it is the shortest route to the beach. The hike is neat in itself, but can be buggy, so bring bug spray. The beach here is not as big and wide as the other two places and I have not gotten as good stuff here. But, also I have not been here as much as the last two places. As with everywhere else, you are not allowed to dig in the cliffs, just on the beach. It is mostly a safety issue, because the cliffs can collaspe on you. The chesapeake bay sites are all miocene fossils. If you want some Paleocene fossils, head to charles county. South of Indian Head,MD there is a undeveloped state park on the Potomac River. It is called Purse State Park. Get yourself on Route 224 heading south from the Indian Head area,you can also cut accross from Route 301 if you are coming that way, but from Indian Head you are on it awhile and there will be a parking area on your left coming from the north. Park there, cross the road, and it is a 1/2 mile walk on a unmarked trail,it is obvious where the trail is. You will come to a view of the Potomac River ontop of the cliffs. Bear left and descend to the river. Make sure you come at low tide! Same with the places on the Chesapeake or there will be no beach! You can dig on the beach and although there is no regulation here, I would not reccomend digging in the cliffs. You get shark teeth and ray plates, but they are different looking from the miocene sharks. Although I have not checked it out, there is turritella fossils, if you bushwhack south of the beach there. Good luck fossil hunting!
asdaven July 06, 2007 12:59PMThat first place I mentioned, the chesapeake beach place, the parking area is hard to find. Coming from the north, you will go over a bridge in town and there should be a marina, a couple restaurants, and a old railroad station. The parking area is no more than 1 mile from here. Probably only a half mile. I believe it is at the bottom of a hill and is right where the town ends. It is on the left and there is no road sign. But, there is a sign in the parking lot that say's "Bay Front Park". The parking lot is kind of in the woods, so it is hard to see.
Christa January 12, 2008 10:48PMMy son is really into looking for shells, rocks, fossils. We will be in the DC area next week and I wondered if there is an area you would suggest to look for sharks teeth, etc. A lot of the mines, etc are closed this time of year, but figured we could walk the beach (if permitted) to look for some treasures. We will actually be staying in Haymarket, VA, but would venture out within a few hours.
Any suggestions you have would be appreciated.
Robert Simonoff June 21, 2009 11:43PMHunting Hill is one of our favorites (Hi Jon) but it is only accessible to clubs from what I know.
Another post on the mindat forums asked about collecting in Maryland, it is at http://www.mindat.org/mesg-5-141424.html
Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/23/2009 09:51PM by Jessica and Robert Simonoff.
Ash July 16, 2011 06:54PMI have been to westmorland sp and it is not that great. You have to hike about a mile to get to the beach and when you get there it is tiny strip of beach about a block long (maybe slightly larger)everyone and their friends are there so the beach is very well picked through. If you travel 3 or 4 miles down the road to the Robert E Lee birth place, you will have better luck. You will have to pay something like $5per person to get into the park, but you won't have to hike, there is a pick nick area near the beach, it is larger and you have a much better chance of finding not just sharks teeth, but other fossils as well. I hope that helps out some! Happy hunting!
Stephen Johnson July 16, 2011 07:50PMI'd recommend joining one of the local clubs. Not sure where you are exactly in the area, but northern Virginia, DC and Montgomery County all have good clubs. Being a member is useful if you're interested in minerals - because the clubs arrange visits to local quarries that generally won't allow individual collectors. You'll also meet lots of people with local knowledge. I'm sure there's a club in Baltimore too, but not familiar with it. If your driving range is 2 hours, that will get you to lots of places. Amelia is a 2 hour drive from DC. You really have your pick - pretty much to the east of 95 is the coastal plain, plenty of fossil collecting opportunities and to the west of 95 (and just east in some areas) you have the Piedmont. Happy Hunting.
D&L August 04, 2011 09:42PMMy husband and I are two old farts heading down to the OBX to live in a milllionnaire's house on the beach for a week (in off season so we can afford it.) Can you point us toward the shark tooth side you mention outside of Surry, VA? We'd love to find just one meg tooth before we kick the bucket. Thanks.
D & L
PS Visit the St Clair site in Schuylkill County, PA. the fern fossils (white on black) are so abundant you think it's a trick! I can give really good directions for the pullover spot along the old country road where you walk in to the site.
Docrx July 15, 2012 08:32PMIm an amateur at finding fossils however have become very interested while on a scouting trip when I took my den to Calvert Cliffs. We found a few tiny teeth and enjoyed the museum however after traveling to Sarasota and being introduced to mega teeth and places where you can find some numerous amounts of sharks teeth my sons and I would like to find some of the sites mentioned throughout the conversations and we also live near Baltimore and would love to join a fossil hunting club. We too would travel about 2 hours for a fossil/geode hunting trip. I've read many books on the subject but as someone mentioned joining a club may be the better way to go. I am asking anyone out there for assistance finding some local sites I can take my boys too which would prove to be very productive. We have some geodes but very small and would be interested in sites which may have those. I appreciate any guidance I receive in our pursuit to preserve the past. Thx Doc
Robert Simonoff July 15, 2012 08:50PMI would recommend contacting the North Virginia Mineral Club. They, or at least a good number of their field trips, are within your approximate 2 hour radius. There may be others closer to you, but the only ones I really know of specialize in minerals, not fossils. The NOVA club, while it specializes in minerals, does do some fossil collecting as well. Their web site is North Virginia Mineral Club .
The Delaware Mineral club, website , has historically done some fossil trips, but I am not sure if they have done any recently. They are a little far for me to travel.
In either case, contact the field trip organizers for these clubs. If there is interest, they will try to arrange something - they like to go out and explore as much as anyone.
Karen Davis June 18, 2016 02:18PMHi! Did you use to work in WIN? I think you were my old supervisor many years ago! I just saw your pic in the Capital and it sure looks like the Smitty I remember! I now live off of Broad Creek off the South River. Your house is beautiful! Hope it's you!
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Copyright © mindat.org and the Hudson Institute of Mineralogy 1993-2017, except where stated. Mindat.org relies on the contributions of thousands of members and supporters.