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

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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

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Fern fossil 3

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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

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Fern Fossils b

Rockhound Visit to “The Echo” in Pennsylvania

***June 12, 2019 – American Geode received an email from a gentleman who lived in the area, and knew about this site, and informed us that what we were calling “The Little Grand Canyon” is actually called “The Echo.” We have corrected the title of the article with this new information.

So the American Geode team had planned for a rockhound trip for quartz crystals in McAdoo, Pennsylvania, and instead of finding the cache of quartz, we found something even better,,,,Pennsylvania’a “Little Grand Canyon.” So the American Geode team had heard stories and rumors of rockhounds finding large quartz crystals around McAdoo. We had to go see for ourselves!

The area around Mcadoo is largely abandoned coal mines, strip mines. There is a lot of abandoned history in the area as the coal industry dwindled. You see the row houses that make up the small towns that dot the areas around the abandoned and closed down strip mines, and when you are driving you notice the division between new homes and new business is very stark from the older homes and the old coal mining business.

The story we were told is that rockhounds were finding quartz around the areas exposed by the mining operations. We drove to the largest strip mine in the area, and it was clearly and heavily marked with “no trespassing” signs. Now we don’t do anything illegal, but sometimes what we do may be “unlegal,” but we do abide by “no trespassing” signs when we see them.

We drove around to some other areas not far from the strip mine, kept finding “no trespassing” signs, and we nearly gave up until, while driving down one road, Joe noticed a shack on the side of the road, a fella was sanding down the leg of a coffee table or a stool or something, but his porch was full of stones. Joe said “pull over!” and we did. I let Joe do the talking in these situations, he is kind of like Anthony Bourdain and has the gift of being to strike up a conversation with just about anyone he encounters. Well, after Joe spoke to this fella for 5 minutes, he comes back to the car with directions where the locals find the quartz crystals!

So we followed the directions that our new friend Drew had shared, and we were able to find the path he told us would lead to the locale to find the quartz.
Rockhound Mcadoo 1

Rockhound Mcadoo 2

Rockhound Mcadoo 3

We followed the paths, that were not marked “no trespassing,” but they were not exactly marked “welcome” either. We stopped in our tracks when we saw what looked like THE GRAND CANYON! This gorge, unknown if man-made or natural, was giant, steep, sheer cliffs, beautiful, and a site to behold. Here are the photos:
Rockhound Mcadoo 4

Rockhound Mcadoo 5

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Rockhound Mcadoo 12

Rockhound Mcadoo 13

Now we are pretty reckless at American Geode, but without the right equipment we were not going to scale the Little Grand Canyon to find the source of the large quartz crystals. We did find the area however. Look closely in these photos at the blue rope, tied to the tree? We had been told that people scale down that thin rope, more like cord, to an overhang where one can dig into the side of the mini canyon. Look closely, the rope, cord really can be hard to spot.
Rockhound Mcadoo 15

Rockhound Mcadoo 14

So we may return to this spot in the spring with proper equipment, but we did make a wonderful discovery during this trip. The Little Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania is a sight to behold.

Rockhound Mcadoo 16

Rockhound Mcadoo 5

When we were walking about, look what we found on the ground!
Mcadoo Quartz close up

Mcadoo Quartz

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
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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!

Family-friendly, educational, affordable gem, mineral, fossil show in NYC March 4-5

The New York gem, mineral, fossil show is March 4-5.

American Geode will be there cracking geodes and sharing geode and geology stories with youngsters.

Print or download this discount coupon for $1 off admission to this family-friendly, affordable, and educational gem, mineral, fossil show.

The sponsor is the New York Mineralogical Club, which is America’s older gem and mineral society.

Students and families are welcome and invited.

New York Gem, Mineral, Fossil Show Discount Coupon

For more gem, mineral, and fossil show information visit:

About the New York Mineralogical Club:
The New York Mineralogical Club is one of the oldest organizations in the nation devoted to the study and appreciation of gems and minerals. Since its founding by George F. Kunz (as in the gemstone “kunzite”) and others in 1886, it has grown to include nearly 250 diverse members ranging from beginning collectors to professional geologists, mineralogists and mining engineers. The New York Mineralogical Club celebrated its 130th anniversary in 2016.
Mission Statement

Founded in 1886 for the purpose of increasing interest in the science of mineralogy through the collecting, describing and displaying of minerals and associated gemstones.


We regularly meet from 6:00 to 10:00 p.m. on the second Wednesday of every month (excluding August) at the Watson Hotel (formerly Holiday Inn Midtown Manhattan) at 440 West 57th Street, between Ninth and Tenth Avenues. We also have specialized study groups and satellite meetings from time to time. The public and any guests may attend meetings free of charge. Come to any meeting, meet the members, attend a lecture, view a slide show, get your questions answered about minerals, gems and collecting. Bring your family and a friend. Or simply send us a membership application that you can download and print or join using PayPal and receive membership for a full year. Check out our calendar for upcoming events.

The hotel has on-site parking. Subway lines at Columbus Circle/59th Street and crosstown buses with stops on 57th Street are convenient and nearby.

Annual Dues

$25 per year for individual membership, $35 per year for family membership. Both types of membership include all rights, benefits, and our award-winning monthly bulletin.
Does your gem, mineral or fossil club or society need new members in your ranks? How about new guests to your gem, mineral and fossil shows? Would you like rockhounds and gem, mineral and fossil enthusiasts to travel across state lines to visit your show? Would you like exponentially more traffic to your club’s homepage or the show’s homepage?

American Geode can help. Between 3000 and 10000 rockhounds and gem, mineral and fossil enthusiasts visit our website each month. They also contact us for suggestions on clubs to join, and shows and events to attend.

Other mineral websites charge between $600 to $1000 per year for a banner ad on their site.

We charge a flat rate of $150 for 12 month basic partnership and offer much more than other mineral sites. Send us two banner ads, 728×90 and/or 150×150, that we will post on our website. As an add-on service, send your club announcements and show announcements for us to post over our famous American Geode Twitter Account with 10,000+ rockhound followers, fans and friends.

The benefits to you and your club are that you will raise higher in the Google ranks when someone searches for gem and mineral clubs, and gem and mineral shows. You will also view many more visitors to your site, soliciting information about how to join your club, download your member application form, and visit your shows.

How to choose the gem and mineral club that is right for you?
Each club does have a different style, and you can tell what that is from their homepage, or if they do not maintain a homepage, then ask someone from the club. Some clubs have access to facilities offering a complete workshop; saws to cut giant geodes in half, cabochon machines, polishing wheels, lapidary tools, faceting machines, and kilns to heat your wire-wrapping or jewelry projects are for member use! Some clubs maintain all that equipment in their own private clubhouse! Is a workshop something you seek to pursue and hone your hobby? If so, then find the club that offers that equipment.

Now the clubs like this may not always have a special monthly speaker, but the clubs who meet in a rental space, hotel banquet hall or college facility do very likely provide different speakers each month. The clubs in big cities, where a workshop or clubhouse would be impractical, or impossible to acquire and maintain rely on other facilities for monthly meetings and shows, so to keep membership growing, those kinds of clubs keep a lively roster of speakers on their calendars.

Is your goal to get out and rockhound? Do you seek to explore old abandoned mines? A question to ask a club is do they throw and organize field trips? You can often times find out the answer on their homepage. There is often a “field trip” section, much like this Rockhound page. If you can’t tell, then ask the club. Sometime being in a big city can make field trips a challenge. Most people in New York City or Chicago do not have cars for instance. A field trip would require permission and arrangement to visit a site, a bus or fleet of vans, and if it rains, the field trip is canceled. So big city clubs may not offer rockhounding field trips. The age range of the club can also set the tone for interest in rockhounding and field trips. For a club whose members’ days of getting out into the field are past, you may not find these opportunities.

So what is the best approach to becoming involved with gem, mineral, and fossil clubs? The answer is to join more than one. The dues are annual and range from $15 per year to about $50 per year on the very high side. You may live in New York but find the newsletter from a club in Texas is chock full of so many good tips about polishing gems and minerals, cleaning rocks from the field, and other anecdotes that you belong despite the geographical distance.

So join more than one gem and mineral club, to have access to a workshop when you need it, field trips in the spring and fall, the chance to hear academic and scholarly discussions in geology and paleontology, and make new friends during the whole gem and mineral club experience!