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
Return to georgesbasement

The Dragon Fly Locality
This was Locality No. 21, northeast of and adjoining the last-named Locality No. 20.  Here we found a large, finely preserved insect wing about four-and-one-half inches long.  Not that it was necessarily the wing of a dragon-fly, but the name has been so often used as one denoting something superlative in the insect line, that we used it.  During a later visit there we found a fine and complete "craw-dad."  It was really not a crawfish, although it looked much like one.  Its Christian name was Anthrapalaemon gracilis, sponsored by the scientists Meek and Worthen.

We also found our first fish teeth, to say nothing of many good plant specimens.  Nobody had worked in this area before us.  There were no piles of weathered discards.  We were surprised and greatly pleased to find ourselves the first visitors, not merely to this one choice spot, but to the whole surrounding area as well. 

South of Locality No. 21 we got into a large tract of brown nodules.  These were weathered black ones, and although there were many well shaped ones, we found only poorly preserved Asterotheca in nearly all of the ones that we split open.  We then went quite far east on an abandoned mine-truck road and found rather friable shale nodules which split very easily, and which to our surprise produced several very good things.  This was Locality No. 24.  We visited the spoil heaps at Locality No. 25, lying between Locality No. 21 and Locality No. 24 and did only fairly well with the weathered and somewhat poor material we found there.  We tried Locality No. 22 east of the cranes and found much shale and shale nodules.  We got some good specimens, but most of it was rather poor stuff with mostly common plant forms.  We kept pegging away in this region through August 1938, and by the middle of September had spent thirty-five days of collecting there, twenty-eight days of which were spent at Locality No. 20 and Locality No. 21, where we had our greatest success.  The whole area is a very spotty one for collecting, and here as elsewhere the geological conditions are not uniform.  The depth of the coal seam differed in different places.  Sometimes, Pleistocene gravel stones were on top; sometimes, absent.  These gravel stones were from the Niagaran Silurian limestone.

Early in September 1938, we again visited Locality No. 23 near where coal strip mining was going on.  We went into a new part of this area and spent some time down in the cut looking at the freshly exposed wall sections.  These sections varied considerably.  In places, there was much red-stained, small gravel with water seeping through, at the base of the thick bed of thin [fine ? - GL,III] sand above the clay.  In other places there was no gravel.  In several sections, clay continuing from the sand above down to the coal, contained nodules throughout about twelve feet of depth down.  Some of ther nodules contained the common Pecopteris, both near the coal and ten feet above it.  Irregular lenses of claystone occurred throughout this ten foot depth.  Neither the clay nor claystone contained fossils, as near as we could determine.  The clay is really a soft rock cracked up into blocks.  Following westward over the Will County-Grundy County line, the wall sections showed more clay and less claystone and nodules, until we found scarcely any nodules at all, but more friable sandstone down near the coal.  This sandstone seems to predominate in the northwestern and western parts of the extensive mined area, and we saw very few traces of fossil plant.  The eastern and southeastern parts were better.  However, although we found many well shaped nodules on the slopes of the spoil heaps running down into the pit, we got many blanks and not much that was very fine or new to us.

We talked with the pit-boss, who knew about the fossil plants and had formerly come upon many of them.  However, none of the working pits seemed to be producing any good fossils, as far as he knew.  His pit was "No. 4" and he suggested that we visit Pit "No. 5," six or seven miles to the west in Grundy County.
[unsigned, but in the handwriting of] George Langford, Sr.