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 October 1939
Field Work

October 2 & 3, 1939:  Having done most of the much visited good sites, I made a break for a new spot, choosing the Outdoor Club's preserves at Locality No. 27.  I drove northwest one-and-one-half miles from the Tipple and then cross a southwern line of hills past the north end of Outdoor Pond.  From there I crossed two more low hills into No Man's Land, west to the edge of Grundy County.  I was only one-eighth mile from the Santa Fe Rail Road and not far from our Europteris locality.  The picking was poor until I came upon a low hill range section, where for a length of about fifty feet, I came into some pretty good stuff containing quite a few unusual specimens, among them a new kind of segmented worm-like thing.  Here was a big, robust Ptychopteris and other plants, mostly all weathered open.  I got some Asolanus, Lepidodendron, and other things.  I had a forty-five pound pail load, and it was a mighty tough job getting back across the several hill ranges.  Next day I went to the same place, thinking that, after I cleaned it up, I would find other spots nearby equally good.  I found a slender worm-like thing but no new good spots, although I tramped around a lot.  I gathered nodules enough, but most of them were of poor stone quality and common species.

October 5, 1939: I tried this region again going more northward.  I found some Lepidodendron, but altogether I was not much enthused over what I got.  I might make some allowances.  Almost every field trip gives me something very good.

October 6, 1939: I tackled Locality No. 8 at the line of cottonwood trees [see map diagram in the September notes - GL,III] but going in northward this time from the Tipple Road.  I figured that long continued dry weather would enable me to cross the marsh and the several ditches, and I found this to be true.  The hills at the cottonwood trees did very well by me.  The stone, although hard and dense, gave excellent quality, and I found many interesting things, although no large ones and no animals.  I had a full load at 2:30PM: fifty pounds in the pail and fifteen pounds on the left shoulder.  The distance to my car was only a quarter-mile, but the very deep marsh grass, detours, and ditch crossings made the going mighty tough, and I was mighty tired and thirsty when I reached my car.  Here is how my day's work stacked up.  I got no large pieces.

Specimens of 2nd selection for developing.
Specimens of 3rd selection.
Specimens of 4th selection.
Total number of specimens, weighing fifty-five pounds.

Of these, twenty second- and third-selection specimens are to be mended.  This Locality No. 8 was and still is a choice collecting site.

October 9, 1939: A Monday - [I went back to] Locality No. 8 again, working more to the west and north.  I went in again from the Tipple Road, leaving my car northwest of the Tipple and then walking straight north to the slopes west of the line of cottonwoods.  My car was about one-quarter mile south of where I worked.  I did not get any marvellous things and only a few big ones, but the variety of species and stone quality still held good and do not seem to be surpassed anywhere else.  Even the common species: Asterotheca miltoni, Neuropteris scheuchzeri, and Annularia radiata were of fine quality and not abundant enough to be annoying.  I secured about fifty species.  My pail load was sixty pounds, and [the load on] my left shoulder was over twenty pounds; just about half of my own weight of one hundred sixty-three pounds on the hoof.  The sky gradually became overcast, and at 2:30PM, I decided to abscond to avoid a wetting.  A light drizzle fell as I labored through the deep marsh grass and over the irrigation ditches, but charitably [the sky] withheld its hand until I reached my car.  Then came the downpour, a succession of deluges with only brief intermissions until I reached home about 4:00PM.  This is the first really wet rain for several months, enough to wash the hills to afford more collecting in the much searched prolific sites.  The weather is quite warm.

October 11-13, 1939:  (Wednesday through Friday) I was in Locality No. 8 all three days, parking on the Tipple Road and going across the grassland to the clay heaps.  Locality No. 8 is about one-quarter mile west and one-quarter mile north of the big coal washing plant, and is at the cottonwoods, a line of trees running from southeast to northwest, but running more north than west.  I worked the central southern part Locality No. 8 on the first day and kept sixty-seven specimens weighing forty pounds.  On the second day I moved to the western part and north almost to the Long Pond going to the edge of Locality No. 17, which yielded Asterotheca miltoni as before and very little else.  I brought home thirty-five pounds of specimens.  On the third day, I worked westward and into Locality No. 7, bringing home only twenty-five pounds of specimens.  The sky was much overcast, and a strong west wind nearly blew me off the peaks.  It was cold and raw, about 45°F, and I had a hard time keeping warm.  Locality No. 8 certainly gives large variety and fine stone quality, but more small specimens than [I] ordinarily [find].  It stacks up well with Locality No. 3.  These were the two best, I think.

October 16, 1939: (Monday)  I parked in the meadow west of Pig Pen Road and went west to Locality No. 7, following the south shore of Long Pond.  The water was down over six feet below the high stage.  I had poor luck here and continued on west to Locality No. 8 and did not do well there, either.  I continued west to Locality No. 17 and then proceeded south over the clay hills.  This locality was most prolific in the common Asterotheca.  I took home only thirty pounds of fossils.

October 18, 1939:  I parked on Tipple Road and went north to the extreme western part of Locality No. 8.  The day was fine and I did not need a coat.

October 20, 1939:  I parked on Tipple Road and went northwest to the eastern end of Locality No. 28.  This is merely the western end of the line of clay heaps on the south shore of Long Pond.  This was my first visit here since George Jr. and I went there a year ago.   I did not do so well; brought home about forty pounds of fossils.  But on all of my trips when I "did not do so well," I found a score of specimens good enough for "developing."  In the three days I got half a dozen arthropods and some good plants.  The weather was mild these three days [October 16, 18 and 20, presumably - GL,III].

October 22, 1939:  I worked Locality No. 5 west of the Pig Pen, keeping on the eastern and southern slopes.  The day was fine and I did not need a coat.  The common forms predominated, but I found good specimens and brought back a fifty-five pound pailfull and a thirty pound left shoulder load.  With my clothes, hammer, etc. I was carrying about ninety pounds; quite a load over rough ground for an old [sixty-three years - GL,III] man.  I have been trying a new technique for insects and arthropods, and [I'm] not doing badly at it.

October 24, 1939: I parked on the Tipple Road and went northwest across the dried-up marshland to the western end of Locality No. 17.  There was much of the common Neuropteris and Pecopteris here.  The temperature was 42°F at 7:30AM.  The sky was heavily overcast, and a brisk wind made me put on my coat and glove.  On my return while descending the southern hill slope, I slipped and fell.  No harm to me, but my loaded pail scattered itsload along the slope, and no doubt I did not succeed in recovering all specimens.

October 26, 1939: [I went to] Locality No. 17 again, but [this time I went] farther west; the weather was extremely mild.  The collecting was extremely poor, but I did get a fine specimen of Belinurus danae.  Asterotheca miltoni predominates, and the stone is hard, brittle and difficult to split.

October 28, 1939: (Saturday)  The thermometer dropped to 32°F last night, which is the coldest weather thus far.  Previous heavy rains led me to Locality No. 3.  A cold, biting wind swept through the gullies so I had to put on my coat, woolen helmet and glove.  The thermometer could not have been below 38°F, but that strong wind bit me to the bone.  I got so thoroughly chilled that at 1:00PM I took refuge in my car, so thoroughly and uncomortably congealed that I craved no more of it and lit out for my office.

October 30, 1939:  I went into Locality No. 5 and did not do so very well.
[unsigned, but in the handwriting of] George Langford, Sr