Family Fossil Hunting in NW Ohio

In the Saturday, June 27th edition of the Cleveland Plain Dealer my column deals with fossil hunting in Ohio.  It’s a great attraction for kids and family and its free.  My favorite kind of Ohio Road Trip.

 Here’s an excerpt:

 A mere 370 million years ago what is now Ohio was then located at the earth’s equator, and it was under a giant sea.  I learned all this from Gary Madrzykowski, director of the Olander Park System. This city park in Sylvania, Ohio, is in a suburb of Toledo.

 The Olander Park system is home to Fossil Park.  You can dig for real fossils left behind by that long-ago sea that covered our state and you can take home what you find.  Now understand we are not talking about the bones of a T-Rex or a Variraptor.  What you will find here are tiny Devonian-era brachiopods, echinoderms, corals and trilobites.  In fact Madrzykowski says there are only two places in the world that you find really major concentrations of these fossils; Devon, England, where the first were found and Sylvania, Ohio.

 Fossil Park is located on the bottom of an abandoned shale quarry west of Toledo.  The gritty shale material that contains the fossils is trucked in from another quarry about a mile away.  That quarry, owned by the Hanson Quarry Company, is a major repository of the fossils, but their business is mining limestone, not fossils, so they worked out a partnership with the Olander Park System to create Fossil Park.  They bring in the shale they remove to reach the limestone and deposit it in Fossil Park several times a month. Visitors to the park can then search through the shale and keep any fossils they find.  And do they find fossils?  You bet.

 The day we visited a Michigan middle school was on a field trip and, in just minutes, the youngsters  had started to find brachiopods and even pieces of trilobites.  Fourth-grader, Ryan Lonsway, hit the jackpot when he found an intact trilobite.

 ……you can read the rest of the story in the Plain Dealer or go to their web site,