Collecting Fossil Plants and Animals
in the Pennsylvanian Deposits of the Will County, Illinois Coal Measures
The Field Notes of George Langford, Sr. in the Years 1937-1960.
Prepared and organized by George Langford, Jr., 1973.
Copyright George Langford, III, 2010
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Work in the Strip Coal Mines during August 1939
Field Work
August 1, 1939:  Up to this time I have made thirty-six trips to the strip mines this year; one in April; fourteen in May; ten in June; and eleven in July.  I was alone almost all the time.  The Pig Pen localities, east and west, were my chief hunting grounds.  The many heavy rains kept washing out new material in places previously cleaned up by me.

August 1-5, 1939:  In the week ending August 5th, I made four visits to the region northwest of the coal plant where Mr. McClucki first guided us in 1938.  I worked westward to and over the Dike and eastward to where Mr. McClucki first took me.

August 7, 1939:  As the weather was threatening, I went to Locality No. 3 southeast of the Pig Pen and did surprisingly well, considering that I had collected there quite a number of times not long before.

August 9, 11 & 12, 1939:  I spent these three days in a new region.  The mine's Tipple Road was extended nearly a mile northwestward by a Caterpillar tractor which pushed a sort of path through the soft ground and high weeds to where a Diesel-engined crane was digging a drainage ditch.  This brought me within sight of trains passing on the Santa Fe Rail Road and of the pump house.  Instead of going to the hills on my right, I visited those on my left (south).

August 14, 1939:  I went to the Northern Illinois Coal Corporation plant and northwest on the road to McClucki No. 1.  The night had been cool (60°F) and so I ventured over the high hills (north) but got so hot in the gully that at noon I went back with a light load to my car, so boiled out that I had a hard time cooling off.  My thermometer showed 125°F in the gully, and again my watch slowed down to half time.  After lunch I went southwest across the meadow to the outer slopes.

August 16, 1939:  I went into Pit No. 1, the Outdoor Club's sanctuary, and went much farther into this region than Mr. McClucki had taken us a year before.  The collecting was not good, but at last I scored on insects for the first time this year.  A perfect nodule in two halves gave me a fine insect wing two-and-three-quarters inch long and fifteen-sixteenths inch wide.  It is a fine specimen.

August 18, 1939:  Again I went into this same region.  I found the Diesel Caterpillar bucket crane stuck deep in one of the rifts near the road.  They were from 9:00AM until noon getting it out.  I went west quite a distance and found the the low hills so overgrown with cottonwood trees and weeds that I could find no collecting places.  I came back on the ridge where McClucki, George, Jr. and I had collected a year before, but I had poor luck.  The nodules were extremely hard, and most of them [were] disappointing. It was a cool, cloudy day, I stirred around a lot and stayed late.

August 21, 1939:  I continued exploring the field south and west of the McClucki No. 2 site on the Outdoor Club's preserves.  I drove west on the lowland almost [within] sight of the Santa Fe tracks and then crossed over the southern line of hills.  The nodular stone was poor, and I was disappointed in my findings. 

I spent the 23rd and 24th [of August] in Milwaukee.

August 25, 1939:  I kept on [with] my previous exploration, going still farther south.  I delivered the book, "Leaves and Stems," [Dr. Raymond E. Janssen's "Leaves and Stems from Fossil Forests, a Handbook of the Paleobotanical Collections in the Illinois State Museum," just published by the Illinois State Museum, Springfield, Illinois, their Popular Science Series Volume I, - GL,III] to Mr. Weimer and had quite a visit with him.

August 28, 1939:  I am still on the same beat going farther west, but [I'm] having poorer luck.  I saw my first snake - a water species about two feet long.  He was a mighty fast traveller.

August 30, 1939:  I drove down to the Wilmington Coal Company mine below Wilmington on Route 66 and worked on our old site adjoining the coal truck road.

August 31, 1939:  George Jr. joined me at 9:30AM, this being his first fossil hunt with me this year.  We drove west on the northern border of the strip mine area and landed at Pit No. 6 near the digging crane.  We turned about at once and drove to our Locality No. 3 on the southwest in the Pig Pen area.  The day was mild and clear, although I found plenty of heat in the bottoms of the gullies.  We worked from the center westward.  I had been there not so many days before, and so I was not at all prepared for our very pronounced success.  We returned with two-and-three-quarter pails, about one hundred forty pounds, of split nodules, of which I relagated only about sixty pounds to the cellar.  The rest were excellent to good.  We secured a large variety, among them an insect wing and other very good specimens.  It was, I think, my most successful day this year.  Even the common Annularia, Neuropteris, and Pecopteris were unusually good.  We left about 3:45PM and got back to the house at 4:20PM.
[unsigned, but in the handwriting of] George Langford, Sr.