Dig with the Experts updates

Diggers collecting fossils in Penn Dixie’s main quarry.

In consideration of our 2016 Dig with the Experts program — which will be our largest ever and will welcome visitors from all over North America — Penn Dixie has prepared this short guide based on frequently asked questions. If we haven’t addressed one of your questions/concerns, please email Phil Stokes at phil@penndixie.org or call 716-627-4560.

General Stuff

How do I get to Penn Dixie?
Please see our map and directions.

Where can I stay?
We refer our visitors to the Hamburg Chamber of Commerce lodging guide. A number of hotels are located within 1-2 miles of Penn Dixie; we recommend that you evaluate these businesses based on your travel needs (e.g., staying with a pet), budget, location, and reviews. Yelp and TripAdvisor tend to provide useful feedback in our experience.

When does the dig begin?
The dig begins at 9 am on Saturday May 21. Those arriving early are welcome to park, use the restroom, and prepare their tools for the dig.

When does the dig end?
The program concludes at 4 pm, though the site will remain open until 5 pm. Penn Dixie members are allowed to collect until sundown, provided they park outside the gate once it is closed. We will reopen on Sunday at 10 am.

How do I check in?
If you pre-registered, simply present your ID and we will issue a wrist band for the dig.

I didn’t pre-register. Can I pay at the site?
Yes — we will accept walk-in admissions all day.

Are restrooms available?
Yes — we have two portable toilets available.

Is food available?
You Crack Me Up Food Truck will be on site with coffee by about 8:30 am and will serve breakfast items all day. Visitors will also be able to leave and return to the site all day.

What about the weather?
With the exception of lightning, the program will run regardless of the weather. Prepare for cold and wet conditions, warm and sunny conditions, or something in between. We recommend that participants bring:

  • Sunscreen and a shade hat
  • Rain jacket and rain pants
  • Waterproof boots
  • Water (2-3 liters)
  • Lunch and/or snacks

What else is happening?
The night before the dig — Friday May 20 — Paleo Joe Kchodl will give a special presentation on the Fossil Fish of the Lost Lake, Wyoming in the auditorium of the Gateway Executive Building at 3556 Lakeshore Rd. in Blasdell. The talk begins at 7 pm — admission is $5 for the public and FREE for Penn Dixie members.

Fossil Collecting

What can I expect to find?
We can’t say — Dig with the Experts is your opportunity to unearth the unexpected! Since Penn Dixie has millions of Devonian marine fossils, everyone is guaranteed to find something. Probably lots of things. You can get an idea about what has been found in the past by viewing our fossil gallery.

Can I keep what I find?
YES! If you find something cool, though, we ask that you submit a photo that we can include on our website.

I’ve heard that there will be a lot of people attending. How will you deal with the large number of collectors?
We’ve been in regular contact with Dan Cooper and his team, and we’ll open a larger portion of the quarry to accommodate the larger crowds. Consequently there will be more piles of rocks at the surface for splitting purposes.

What do I need to bring to collect fossils?

  1. Rock hammer
  2. Small sledge hammer and chisel
  3. Pry bars
  4. Safety goggles
  5. Newspaper/bubble wrap
  6. Bags for storing wrapped fossils

What if I don’t have that stuff?
Penn Dixie has a limited number of tool sets for rental at $5/day. We will also have fossil collecting bags and hand lenses for sale. Additionally, Past & Present Fossil and Rock Shop will be present with a range of neat merchandise.

An assemblage of Phacops rana trilobites collected from the Smoke Creek trilobite bed.

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