Artist Residency Update

This summer, we teamed up with The Cass Project to create the first-ever Artist-in-Residence at Penn Dixie. After an application and judging process, we selected Bonnie Rush to create and build a meditation labyrinth modeled after a trilobite in a secluded part of our park. Given its isolation, the labyrinth will provide a relaxing place for visitors to reflect in solitude. And, of course, the labyrinth is made from fossils.

Bonnie’s Trilobite Labyrinth is nearly complete. She is looking forward to meeting members and guests on Erie County Earth Science Day — Saturday October 6 — for tours at 10 am, 12 pm and 2 pm. Tours will originate at the Cass Project table under the big tent.

Artist Bio: Born into an artistic family, Bonnie was recognized as the most artistic girl in 8th grade at Holland Central School. She attained a two year vocational training certificate for Landscape and Greenhouse Management, through BOCES. Later, she drew, installed, and maintained various landscapes professionally through 2005, as well as becoming a NYSN/LA Certified Nursery Professional.

Penn Dixie Artist Bonnie Rush

She has been involved in many creative projects for friends and family in both construction, remodeling, textiles, and jewelry. She exhibited “Fiery Sunflowers” at the Erie County Fair in 2017 as well as “Resilience” at ART 24/7 in October 2017. In 2018, Bonnie was awarded the inaugural Cass Project-Penn Dixie Artist-in-residence.

August 25: VIP Visit

Update: Download Mr. Butt’s documentation on the Centre for Himalayan Geology in PDF format.

Penn Dixie has just learned that a surprise guest will join us at our attempt to set the GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS™ title for the World’s Largest Fossil Dig on Saturday August 25 at 9 am.

Mr. Haji Abdul Majid Butt, Geoscientist and Chairperson of the Centre for Himalayan Geology in Kashmir, will serve as grand master of the dig. Mr. Butt travels from Srinagar, the largest city and summer capital of the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. Afterwards, he will tour the park and meet with our board of directors and stakeholders to further develop our partnership.

Venue Change: After the dig, Penn Dixie members are invited to a 2:30 pm reception to meet Mr. Butt at Ilio DiPaolo’s Restaurant and Banquet Facility at 3785 South Park Ave. in the Village of Blasdell — approx. two miles from Penn Dixie. Lunch and coffee are included. Members: Please RSVP to Dr. Phil Stokes at to confirm your attendance.

In 2016, Mr. Butt and the Environmental Policy Group of Jammu and Kashmir created the Kashmir Triassic Fossil Park, an international preserve of scientific and educational value which captures evidence of Earth’s largest extinction event at the end of the Permian Period. Penn Dixie partnered with the new fossil park to offer guidance and share information with our Kashmiri counterparts.

The Kashmir Triassic Fossil Park, Jammu and Kashmir State of India.

In many ways, Mr. Butt’s young organization reflects our organization’s early days. Just like our founders, he is working to establish the scientific value of his park, gain community and political support, preserve land for educational use, and…build a permanent educational facility on site. We are proud to work with him towards this meritorious goal.

Admission to the big dig is reduced to $5 — preregistration strongly recommended — and we will present commemorative gifts to all guests to show our gratitude for their help. Our big dig is made possible by Evans Bank, Phillips Lytle LLP, RP Oak Hill Building Company Inc., The Hanna Family, Erie County Cultural Funding, and many others.

For full details or to register, visit our dig page.

To learn more about this partnership, check out this blog post from 2016.

A.M. Butt Biography

Mr. Butt holds a Master of Science in Geology from the University of Jammu, India as well as undergraduate degrees in gemology and industrial engineering. He worked for a government cement factory for 33 years — starting as a geologist — and rose to be general manager. Following his time at the cement factory he gained a prestigious position as Kashmir Administrative Services (KAS) Officer. He also served as general manager for Ircon International — India’s infrastructure agency — on a major tunneling project. Specializing in sapphire mining, he consulted for numerous government and private interests in India and abroad as well.

Presently Mr. Butt is developing the Kashmir Triassic Fossil Park. The park is located 16 kilometers (10 miles) from Srinagar, the largest city and the summer capital of the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. He, along with local government and the state tourism department, acted to preserve and protect the land from illegal mining activities. In 2016, this goal was realized.

Besides native plants and animals, the park contains rocks and fossils from the Permian and Triassic Periods. Most notably, there is evidence of the Earth’s most deadly extinction event at the end of the Permian Period — 252 million years ago. During this global disaster 96% of all marine species — including trilobites — and 70% of all terrestrial species became extinct. Many causes are suspected.

Mr. Butt is visiting Penn Dixie to build a stronger partnership with the global community and to promote peace and tourism in his region. He would like to develop his park in the style of Penn Dixie: as an educational center, outdoor research lab, and global geological treasure. He welcomes students, scientists, and scholars to work with him and his agency towards this endeavor.

Getting to Penn Dixie

Penn Dixie is located at 4050 North Street, Blasdell, New York 14219. Since some GPS units direct visitors to the wrong location, for best results enter ‘Penn Dixie Fossil Park‘ instead of our street address. Visitors frequently report that Apple Maps directed them elsewhere; Google Maps is consistently accurate.

From the NYS Thruway:  Take Exit 56, the Blasdell exit; after the toll booth, turn right on to Rt. 179 (Milestrip Rd); at the first traffic light turn left on to South Park Avenue (Rt. 62); proceed south on South Park Avenue for 1.2 miles to the traffic circle; enter the circle and turn right on to Big Tree Road; cross a single railroad track; at the first road on the right, Bristol; turn right on to Bristol Road; proceed to the end of Bristol; turn left on to North Street; the Penn Dixie Site entrance is directly ahead.

Penn Dixie Map 1
Getting to Penn Dixie from NYS Thruway Exit 56.

From Buffalo along Rt. 5:  Proceed west on Rt. 5 from Buffalo, through Lackawanna and Woodlawn; after the Ford Motor Company Plant, take the first left on to Bay View Road, crossing over the east bound Rt. 5 traffic; proceed on Bay View Road across the railroad tracks, up the hill, to Big Tree Road (a blue & white Penn Dixie sign is at this intersection); make a left on Big Tree road proceeding east; the last road on the left is Bristol (Penn Dixie Sign); turn left, go to the end and make a left on to North Street; continue to the Penn Dixie entrance.

Penn Dixie Map 2
Penn Dixie is located at 4050 North Street off Bristol Rd. near the intersection of Big Tree Rd. and South Park Ave.

Route 5 from the west:  After passing the Hamburg Town Park on Lake Erie, proceed to the next traffic light at Big Tree Road (Hoak’s Restaurant is on left & Red Top Hot Dog stand is on the right); turn right on to Big Tree road and proceed east crossing St. Francis Drive, pass the WKBW radio towers; as the road begins to veer right continue straight on Big Tree to the stop sign at Bay View Road; continue across Bay View Road and proceed to the last road on the left, Bristol; make a left on Bristol and go to the end and make a left on to North Street;  Penn Dixie entrance is directly ahead.

From Route 20, east or west:  Take Rt. 20 to South Park Avenue turn left (east bound) or right( westbound) on to South Park Avenue;  proceed north on South Park Avenue; go under a railroad viaduct, enter the circle and turn right on to Big Tree Road; cross over the railroad track; the first road on the right, Bristol, turn right; proceed to the end of Bristol and turn left on to North Street; and the Penn Dixie entrance is directly ahead.

September 22: Scouting Rocks

Join us Saturday September 22 for a FREE day of science funblast!

  • Fossil collecting at the #1 fossil park in the U.S.
  • Commemorative patch for first 100 scouts
  • Nature walks at 11 am and 1 pm
  • Daytime solar viewing
  • 9 am to 4 pm, rain or shine
  • No registration needed; arrive any time

Some form of official scout apparel/insignia is required for free admission. Non-scouts are welcome to participate at our regular admission rates. All children must be accompanied by an adult. No charge for Penn Dixie members.


September 22: Dusty Mars

On Saturday September 22 at 7 pm our telescopes will focus on the red planet to witness the atmospheric effects of an ongoing dust storm. Covering all of Mars, the planet-wide storm sends dust particles high into the thin atmosphere — blocking sunlight from hitting the surface — and obscuring our view as well. The bright reflection from Mars will be dwarfed, however, by the nearly full moon.

Not to be forgotten, Venus, Jupiter, and Saturn will make appearances as well. Though light from the moon will dampen our chances of seeing many deep space objects, if skies are otherwise clear we guarantee you’ll see many constellations including the Big Dipper, Cassiopeia, and that crazy swan, Cygnus.

Our astronomy experts will be your guide to the night sky at Penn Dixie. You may bring along your own telescope or are welcome to use one of the telescopes provided for the evening. Admission to these evening events is $4; Penn Dixie members attend for free.

Please note that we will provide updates on social media should this program be canceled due to weather.

September 22 2018

Sun & Moon:
Sunset will be at 7:05 PM
The nearly (96%) Full Moon will be visible for the entire program

Venus sets at 8:06 pm
Mars rises at 5:10 pm
Jupiter sets at 9:16 pm
Saturn sets at 11:50 pm

The Summer Triangle  – Meridian (Vega, Deneb, & Altair)
The Big Dipper –NW
Cassiopeia – NE
Ophiucus – Meridian
Lyra –Meridian
Cygnus/Northern Cross – Meridian
Aquilla -Meridian
Sagittarius – S
Hercules – W
Pegasus – E
Andromeda – NE

M57 Ring Nebula
M13 The Great Globular Cluster in Hercules
NGC457 ET Cluster
M31 Andromeda Galaxy
Alcor & Mizar

Image Credit: NASA JPL