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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Strip Mine, Grundy County, Illinois
We had rather high hopes for this place, as it was six or seven miles to the west [of] where we had been working, and in Grundy County, not so very far from the Mazon Creek beds whose fossil-bearing nodules have been famous throughout the world for more than seventy years.

As we drove west over dirt roads, the land became more and more, nothing but soft sand.  Pit No. 5 was a hive of buzzing activity, and coal was being taken out in great amount.  We saw a fine example of up-to-date strip mining.  One very large "drag-line" crane with very long boom was stripping off the top sand layer and throwing it to one side in a long pile that looked to be over seventy feet high.  There were no stones and no gravel; nothing but fine, soft sand, yellowish in color, for over twenty feet down.  A second, larger crane with stout boom and digging bucket then removed twenty-five feet or so of shaly clay down to the coal bed and threw the debris onto the spoil heaps of sand piled up by the first-named crane.  The digging bucket of the second crane was a large, massive affair, large enough to contain an automobile comfortably.  Both cranes were electrically operated.  They worked smoothly and fast.  One cannot appreciate the enormity of these machines and the smoothness of their operations, except by seeing them in action at close range.  They worked fast and removed vast quantities of sand and clay [from] above the coal.  In this, they were assisted greatly by the softness of all of the material removed. 

We saw no nodules, only sand and clay.  As far as you could see, there were no fossils whatever.  The spoil heaps covered a large area.  We visited those northeast of where the cranes were working and found some nodules of the dark and rough variety, but when split open, they gave us almost nothing worth keeping.  We saw much sandstone all about us, but no signs anywhere of good collecting prospects.  In time, this strip mine may get into something good, but up to the time we saw it, looking for fossils was simply a waste of time.  This was early in September, 1938.

We spent the remainder of the first half of September looking over our old collecting places.  We visited Locality No. 24 and Locality No. 25 of the Braidwood Coal Company mine, searching over new spots not before examined.  We found nodules each time and brought home loads of specimens, but in general, the collecting was below par.  We then tried Locality No. 1 and Locality No. 2 near the Highway 59-Highway 52 intersection and did fairly well.  Here we found a large grand-daddy horseshoe crab Bellinurus [? Belinurus - GL,III] which any one of the many casual collectors might have picked up ahead of us.  There were some persistent collectors, however; one at least.  This was a John McClucki of Coal City, who operated one of the cranes in the pit north of Braidwood.  While we were working on Locality No. 2, he invited us to join him in a hunt in an area new to us.  We accepted ...
[unsigned, but in the handwriting of] George Langford, Sr.