Red Hill Fossil Discovery Part II

Later on Saturday, October of 2017, the American Geode team made it to the famous outcrop called Red Hill that is near Renovo, Pennsylvania and close to North Bend, Pennsylvania. Red Hill is the site of a very famous tetrapod discovery, one of the earliest tetrapods discovered in North America. The outcrop is very steep, and very dangerous. American Geode classifies Red Hill as an “advanced” or “expert” fossil site. Red Hill is managed by a volunteer group nearby who host and house a fossil and geology museum that American Geode was very lucky to view during a private tour later that day. You can see where boulders have fallen out of the cliff, shards of rock crumbled on the road nearby, and while we were there, occasionally a pea sized pebble to a golf ball sized rock would drop from the cliff.

The fossils that one can find are Devonian plants, and if you are very lucky, one can find an insect, and if lightning strikes twice, once could find a tetrapod again. The American Geode team found many examples of Devonian Plants, but the rock is crumbly. When we brought the Devonian Plant fossils in matrix back to American Geode headquarters to clean up, we sprayed them with water sealant to help seal and protect the matrix.

We did not find any insects, but one of the rockhound paleontologists there described finding a scorpion one time!

If you have some time in the area, rockhounding or not, the museum nearby is a very educational and interesting experience. The museum information is here:
*Call ahead to the museum! This is a volunteer staffed museum, so do not expect normal hours, and do not rely on information on their site. Call ahead!*

Here are photos of the Red Hill fossil trip and our Red Hill fossil discoveries! To see and purchase Red Hill fossils from the American Geode collection, go to our eBay store:
Red Hill Fossils a

Red Hill Fossils b

Red Hill Fossils c

Red Hill Fossils d

Red Hill Fossils i

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Red Hill Fossils g

Red Hill Fossils f

Red Hill Fossils e

Red Hill Fossils j

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Red Hill Fossil S

Red Hill Fossil R

Red Hill Fossil Q

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Red Hill Fossils o

Carbondale Fern Fossil Site – CLOSED

Carbondale had an area, site of former strip mining, that still had piles and heaps of shale and slate that contained fern fossils. American Geode has the good fortune of discovering this site back in 2015 and recovered many fern fossils for our clients in academia, for our collector clients and for donation to the gem, mineral and fossil societies to which American Geode belongs.

American Geode are very sad to report that this fern fossil site is now CLOSED and OFF-LIMITS. We returned to the site and saw a large sign declaring that this was a Pennsylvania State Mine Reclamation Project, and as we walked around, we saw no more hills, no pilings, no mounds. Everything was razed. The site was closed, off limits, we could see the tracks from heavy equipment that bull-dozed over the pilings and fossil mounds; this fern fossil site is gone. We took some photos of the now desolate and closed Carbondale fern fossil site, and American Geode still has some of these fossils in our inventory available for studying or purchase:
Name: Fern Fossils and Tree Branches
Fern Species: Alethopteris
Location: Carbondale, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.
Time: Pennsylvanian Sub-period, 320-290 million years old
Llewellyn Formation
Carbondale fern fossils 1

Carbondale fern fossils 2

Carbondale fern fossils 3

Carbondale fern fossils 4

Carbondale fern fossils 5

Carbondale fern fossils 6

Hyner View State Park

American Geode visited Hyner View State Park during the American Geode rockhounding and fossil hunting trip to Renovo, Pennsylvania and the world famous fossil locale of Red Hill. We were told that Hyner View State Park had the best sunset in the area, so we raced up a very winding road to the top of the mountain to witness one of the great sunsets. The photos speak for themselves, but we need to explain what the platform is that is visible in some of the photos. Due to the freedom of Pennsylvania laws governing outdoors activity, and the self-responsibility that the PA law requires, people go hang gliding off that platform. Per Pennsylvania law, unless you have been invited on to someone’s property, you are liable for yourself. Unless you are under the invitation of a property owner, even if you trespass on someone’s property, and get hurt, the owner of the property is not liable; you are liable. As a result of this, there is much more freedom allowed in Pennsylvania on public lands, as the state is not liable, and you are fully responsible for your safety and well-being. This brings many hang gliders to Hyner View State Park for hang gliding. We were told that someone goes up there with their hang glide, and then they have a friend drive down to meet and rendez-vous with them when they land at the bottom.

The laws of personal responsibility apply to rockhounding as well. One can rockhound along a state road outcrop. As long as the outcrop is not private property, you can rockhound. You are not allowed to rockhound or pull over along national highways however. This is a very important distinction to make because I-80 and I-81 are full of large outcrops, but they are off-limits since the highway is national. This is why American Geode was able to fossil hunt along old Route 15, along the outcrop that is Red Hill and in infamous ghost town Centralia.
American Geode recommends each rockhound to plan their excursions in advance, exercise safety with goggles and protective clothing and gear, and to ensure that you do not trespass on private property. American Geode can provide guidelines from our rockhounding and fossil hunting trips, but American Geode are not legal experts.

Hyner View State Park was full of trails, and a a great place for cooking out. A family could bring a picnic, tools, charcoal, burgers and dogs for grilling out and take advantage of the permanent grills up there at the top of the mountain.

When rockhounding near Renovo, or fossil hunting at world famous Red Hill, American Geodes recommends a drive to Hyner View State Park for one of the world’s great sunsets, and maybe some hang gliders!

Hyner View State Park 1

Hyner View State Park 2

Hyner View State Park 3

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Hyner View State Park 14

Fern Fossils Discovery in Centralia, Pennsylvania

American Geode returned to the abandoned ghost town of Centralia, Pennsylvania to trace the source of rumors and stories about fern fossils that had supposedly been discovered in this dangerous, forgotten town in the heart of coal country. October 2017, returning from a successful trip in Renovo, PA, making a Red Hill fossil discovery, the team decided to stray a little off of I-80 and revisit Centralia. Centralia, PA is an old coal town that had been abandoned, demolished and condemned in the 1990s due to an underground coal mine fire raging since the early 1960s. Centralia can still be discovered on a map, and it is like walking into a set for “The Walking Dead,” or a show set after the Apocalypse.

There are many articles written about Centralia that contain more history and background than American Geode can share. We were there because people were telling us that they found fern fossils.

We parked the car past the second cemetery in town, walked about 300 meters, and found a hillside that was in fact covered with slate and shale. This was somewhat treacherous and American Geode would classify this site as “intermediate.” Wear boots with soles made for rocky and slick surfaces, wear gloves, long sleeves in case you stumble, and bring water and food because you are in an abandoned town after all. We were reluctant at first to start digging, but to paraphrase Walt Disney it was time for us to stop talking and “just get to work.”

We were very excited when we started finding branches, and some ferns. American Geode believes that this is the site of a swamp or marsh where trees fell and died. We found many more branches and logs than we did fern fossils. The fern fossils are the most dramatic however and most highly sought after. Following is background on the fern fossils one can find in Centralia, photos of our adventure and a video. We are selling many of the fern fossils we discovered this trip. Please contact American Geode for details or visit us on ebay:
Fern fossil 1

Fern fossil 2

Fern fossil 4

Fern fossil 15

Fern fossil 16

Fern fossil 17

Fern fossil 18

Fern fossil 19

Fern fossils 5

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Fern fossil 3

Fern fossil 9

Fern fossil 12

Fern fossil 13

Fern fossil 14

From the American Geode eBay shop:

Fern fossils, tree branches from Centralia, Pennsylvania, from an abandoned off-limits site. This is the first time they have come to market.

Discovered by American Geode in October 2017.

Excellent set of 17 fern and plant fossils, museum quality. Academics, curators, collectors and interior design professionals have called our plant fossil collection some of the finest ever assembled. These fossils are becoming increasingly rare. The mineral Pyrophyllite is what gives the fern and vegetation impressions their unique white color. The unusual gold tint is rare and is caused by iron ore that was present during the fossil formation.

Name: Fern Fossils and Tree Branches
Fern Species: Alethopteris
Location: Centralia, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.
Time: Pennsylvanian Sub-period, 320-290 million years old
Llewellyn Formation

Fern fossils m

Fern Fossils j

Fern fossils i

Fern Fossils h

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Fern fossils f

Fern Fossils e

Fern Fossils d

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Fern Fossil k

Fern fossils a

Fern Fossils b

Red Hill Fossil Discovery Part I

Red Hill is a giant outcrop in North Bend, Pennsylvania that is site of one of the world’s most famous fossil discoveries. Red Hill is the location that helped establish a time-line, and proof of the earliest tetrapods to walk on North America. Red Hill is a fossil location that American Geode would classify as “expert” or “master.” It is a very dangerous location, not only because it is along the highway, but because stones and boulders still fall from the sheer cliff. American Geode made a Red Hill discovery however, and here is the American Geode story about our recent trip to Red Hill.

We started driving around 1am on Saturday morning, so we could stop at another fossil outcrop on the way to Red Hill. Traffic is still heavy leaving New York City however. We tell everyone that just getting out of New York City can be half the time and trouble when you’re on a road trip. The game plan was to stop at an outcrop in Pennsylvania, old Route 15, which is from the same period as Red Hill.

We finally got to the location around 6:30am, and decided to take an hour’s nap as the sun had not risen yet. When we awoke an hour later, we were not alone!

Hell of a way to start a rockhound trip! After the bears ran off however, we started picking around in the rubble and found many Devonian plant life examples, and some fish scales!
Fish scales : Duncannon Member, approximately 367 my.
Devonian Plants : Duncannon Member, approximately 367 my.
Bears : Mamma and her 3 cubs
Red Hill b

Red Hill a

Red Hill c

Red Hill d

Red Hill e

Red Hill f

Red Hill g

Red Hill i

Red Hill j

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Red Hill h

American Geode would classify this site on old Route 15 as moderately easy. While one can not scale or walk up the outcrop to get to the source material, clearly the elements cause large pieces and boulders to drop. We did not use any tools, we just wore gloves and turned over all the stones and slabs that were on the ground. This site does not have a name to our knowledge other than “old Route 15 fossil spot,” but it was a fun way to begin our trip to Red Hill.

After seeing the bears that morning, I was pretty happy with the trip. It could only get better, or only get worse!
The encounter with bears was picked up by one of the local newspapers as well:

If you would like to learn more about rockhounding, or compare notes with American Geode or learn more about places to search for fossils, or to join forces, please contact American Geode by visiting the American Geode homepage:

Now for “Red Hill Fossil Discovery Part II” when we finally got to the fabled locale, for more excitement, and much, much more hard work!