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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The Eurypterus Locality
This was almost on the Will County- Grundy County line near the Santa Fe Railroad tracks.  The spoil heaps cover a large area, and the nodules are very old and much weathered.  First we encountered a "Lepidophyllum grove," there being little else than these long and narrow spike-like leaves.  The rest of the material in the general area was poor; most of the plants [were] obscured by mineral deposit.  However, we found a lone Eurypterus about three inches long.  This was a scorpion-like swimming creature with a large, bucklered head and segmented body.  This was a rare find, 1 in 75,000, as we had split open 75,000 nodules by this time.  This was at Locality No. 19.  We then went into Locality No. 23 nearby where there had been recent stripping operations.  The area was large and we found some things but in general were disappointed.  George Jr. smashed his left thumb while splitting, and I knocked a bad hole in my right thigh on the inside, just above the knee.  It had to be dressed for three weeks before it healed completely.  This was in May 1938.

In general we had not been doing so well in our hunts for good new localities, so we went back to our old spots in the Pig Pen region. To our surprise, the Spring rains had developed more material and we got lots of new stuff, particularly in Locality No. 3 and Locality No. 8.  The first-named site is very accessible, and we were surprised that nobody had cleared it up before us, but we finally realized that the best picking was not at the two ends of the spoil heaps but in between, where it was difficult to get about.  We were encouraged to try a second time but did not get much, as we seemed to have mopped up the place pretty thoroughly on our previous visit.  We went into Locality No. 4 on the north side of the pond and did only fairly well, so we concentrated again on Locality No. 7 and Locality No. 8.  We got variety there, as well as well preserved material.  Thus far, Locality No. 8 was as good or better than anywhere else.  We moved farther west to Locality No. 17 on the north side.  Here were many fine-looking nodules, but most of them contained the common Pecopteris.  So we returned to Locality No. 8 and got caught in a cold, heavy rain that soaked us to the skin.  Not long after, another downpour caught us as we were on our way back under load, and again we got a good soaking.

Going north by foot from Route 52 and west of Locality No. 2, we explored the new Locality No. 18.  This was the long range, which when viewed from the west end, slanted northward toward the east end.  We found old cracked piles of nodules, showing that others had been there before us.  A pond with fish in it lay on the north side of the chain.  We found some good things, but there were many "bombs" and much poorly preserved material on both the north and south faces, so we were not encourage to go there again.  At noon we got back to our car just in time to escape a downpour and driving west wind.

June 1938 found us trying more places unsuccessfully and returning to the best of the old places.  We went to the pit south of the Wilmington Coal Company's place and northeast of Braidwood, off Route 66.  We explored the eastern slopes of the poil heaps and found millions of small nodules, practically all of which were blanks.  Having visions of small insects, we cracked open a great many nodules, and the best we could do was about one Annularia radiata in a hundred nodules split.  That was the last of this place for us.  We got back to our Pig Pen region. 

During all this time we maintained our one hundred fifty to two hundred fifty output pretty closely.  That is, we brought back one-and-three-quarters to three pails of acceptable specimens, numbering hundred fifty to two hundred fifty.  The number split open and discarded varied.  Getting one specimen out of seven split was the best we ever did.  One in ten was good going.  Often it was one in fifteen, and at times it was one in twenty-five.  Finding the choice spots was our main problem, but in all cases we had to have big production.  Having found a choice spot, it was up to us to mop it up to discourage others from collecting there, after which we waited for heavy rains to expose new material so that we could go in again and mop it up once more.  Mopping up meant looking over the heaps pretty carefully so as to leave little or nothing that might attract other collectors.  We were not interested in others, as all of them were haphazard collectors, and we judged that what they got would never do anybody much good, any more than to entertain themselves.  And yet the chances of getting good things grew fewer as time went on.  Places once picked over do not produce as they first did.

We went over the spoil heaps on the southwest side of where stripping operations were going on.  This was northwest of Locality No. 23 and west of it in Grundy County, just west of the Will County-Grundy County line.  There were plenty of nodules, but we split many and got so little that we did not go there again.  We were working in hot weather, and frequently the combination of work and heat exhausted me.  George Jr. was always stripped to the waist during the Summer and got as brown as an Indian.

We went over to the strip mine of the Wilmington Coal Company in July 1938.  In August, this name was changed to Braidwood Coal Company.  It was several miles southwest of Wilmington and in Custer Township.  We reached it by going in to the southwest from Route 66.

[unsigned, but in the handwriting of] George Langford, Sr.