Houston Gem & Mineral Society Field Trips
Updated 07/09/2015

The field trip leader is Mike Dawkins. E-mail him at the field_trips address on the Contact Us page to be put on the mailing list for field trips. Note: You must be a member of HGMS to be put on the list.

Field Trips—We go on as many as we can, more in cooler months. We have cooperative field trips with the Clear Lake Gem and Mineral Society and anyone else who wants to run one. Our primary focus is paleo, but we do not let that stop us when we have a good site. Some of our sites are as close as the Brazos River , and some are as far as the phosphate pits in North Carolina .

You are welcome to come on our trips, and we want you to join our club.

Panoramas and Text of favorite field trip locations. (See the Lawton, OK trip and the Gore, OK trip below). E-mail Mike Dawkins and tell him if you like it. You must have Quicktime to view the panoramas.

Date? 2005

Chisum Quarry, Gore, OK        Blastoids and Corals 
Gore, OK Panorama  9 Photos Dry Quarry (97 K)  Dry Quarry (Huge--5 MB)
                                            Wet Quarry (97 K)  Wet Quarry (Huge--2 MB)


July 23, 2005

Dolese Quarry in Lawton, OK     Permian reptiles  
Lawton OK Panorama    31 Photos    Small Panorama (125K)
                                                       Huge Panorama (5.5MB)


2015 Club Field Trips
March 21-22, 2015
Field Trip to Jacksboro, TX

I know we usually go to Brownwood in March, but I want to see and do something new and somewhat different. So, I have planned a trip to the Lake Jacksboro spillway (which is the main focus of this trip), the  Mineral Wells Fossil Park, and maybe Bridgeport if there is enough time to do them all. It has been a long time since the club has visited this area. The Whiteside Museum of Natural History (our buddy Chris Flis is the Museum Director there) is an hour and 10 minutes northwest of Jacksboro, so I am tempted to maybe go there.

My plan is to do the Lake Jacksboro Spillway on Saturday. Maybe drop over to Lake Bridgeport if time permits. Sunday morning will be the Mineral Wells Fossil Park or......., and then back home or wherever you want to go on your own.

I am going to head up on Friday to get settled and scout a couple of additional locations if time permits.

Lodging will be your responsibility. There are hotels in the Jacksboro and Mineral Wells. Neal recommends the
   Jacksboro Inn
   944 S Main St
   Jacksboro, TX 76458

I will send out another email about where to meet and when. RSVP to field_trips@hgms.org that you are planning on going so I have an idea of how many people to expect.  
   Mike Dawkins
2014 Club Field Trips
March 13-16

Paleo Field Trip to Brownwood, TX - March 13 through March 16

Details on where and when to meet up will be e-mailed later. The trip dates are March 13-16, 2014. That means you can come for all or part of the trip, whatever your schedule permits. More details further down.

We have gone in all types of weather. That usually does not stop us. If I have driven that far, I am collecting some fossils.

Brownwood is still in extreme drought, so I don't know how much erosional refreshing of fossils has gone on since last year.
Children are welcome, but you MUST supervise them closely as we will be in some areas where you can get hurt (or worse) if you are not careful.

For those who are new to the club and/or Brownwood, TX:

1. Where is Brownwood and how do I get there?

Brownwood is located in Brown County in north central Texas on US Highway 84. There are multiple ways to get there, depending on your own personal preference. Pull out your map or look at a map online. I usually find my way to TX Hwy 36 via I-10 or US 290. I take Hwy 36 to the Belton/Temple area, then US 190 over to Lampasas, then US 183 (which merges with US 84 at Goldthwaite) to Brownwood. You can choose your own route depending on what you want to see and where you want to stop along the way. I like to look for fossil collecting opportunities along the way. There are some obvious places in Copperas Cove and just south of Lometa. There are Zebras in Zephyr.

2. How long does it take to get there?

It takes roughly 5 hours to drive from Houston. Approximately 290 miles, depending on your starting point. You'll probably want to stop for gas in Lampasas (assuming you go that way).

3. How much does it cost?

Our field trips are generally free, unless there is a fee to get into a specific location. This trip is free, but you are responsible for your own transportation, food, and lodging costs.

4. Where do I stay?

In the past, many of us have "roughed it" at Lexy's historic old house, but the water pipes have finally died there. That will 99.9% not be an option for us this year. Tthis time you will have to find your own accommodations. There are several hotels in Brownwood and the Flagship Inn out by Lake Brownwood. Last year they offered a $20 discount. I have sent them an e-mail, but have not received a reply yet. There also are camping options at Lake Brownwood State Park. Google it.

5. What will I find there?

Primarily fossils of sea life, including urchin pieces, gastropods, bivalves, corals, brachiopods, the occasional rare shark tooth, sponges and other goodies, and possibly some plants from the Pennsylvanian period. Possibly some Permian fossils and Cretaceous fossils too.

Depending on the weather, you may also find some hazardous Texas critters--such as rattlesnakes, scorpions, spiders, red ants, etc. You will need to keep an eye out if it is warm.

If you want to see a lot of pictures of fossils and trip reports from some of our past trips there, go to http://www.thefossilforum.com/ and search the Hunting Trips forum for Brownwood. I think you probably have to be signed in to view most of the pictures, so create an account and sign in. You'll like it.

Also, you can go to the HGMS Web site www.hgms.org and click the Field Trips button at the top. Scroll down, click on the link found right after the 2013 field trip listings. This takes you to all the 2012-1999 listings. You will find comments and info about previous trips. In particular, have a look at the report on the 2006 trip http://www.hgms.org/StartPageHTMLFiles/PaleoPetrifiedWoodFieldTrips/2006-Brownwood.pdf  and the 2002 slideshow http://www.hgms.org/client_trips/BrownwoodSpill0201/index.htm to get a better idea of the location and what can be found.

6. What do I need to take with me?

Appropriate clothing: This is Texas. The weather can go from 70 degrees to 25 in an hour. Check the weather forecast for Brownwood before you leave Houston. You may need T-shirts or polar gear or both. Be prepared. Seriously, you will need two changes of clothing per day (and shoes). One for hunting and one for after. Take a jacket. You will need it at night. I usually take more than I need, but I have it if I need it.

Collecting gear: Boots or old shoes, clothes that you don't mind getting permanently dirty, knee pads (a personal favorite), gloves, Ziploc bags, pill bottles, plastic shoe boxes, buckets (whatever you might need to put fossils in), backpack, screwdriver or small pointy trowel, rock hammer (if you like to bang on rocks), aluminum foil or some other method of packing small and/or delicate fossils.

Other: a cooler, plenty of water to drink, snacks, lunch, sunscreen, hat, whatever you want.

Preliminary Trip Itinerary (subject to change):

    Thursday - Since we are not able to use Lexy's house this year, I suppose that most people will either be still working or will be traveling (including myself) to Brownwood. In the past, many of us have used this first day to collect fossils along the way to Brownwood. This year will be no different. If anyone wants to meet up along the way or in Brownwood later that evening, we can coordinate that later.
    Friday - To Be Decided. There are plenty of places to go and most of you know them. Park Road 15, the old fish hatchery, spillway, etc. We are trying to find some new spots.
    Saturday - This is the day that most people are able to attend. We will probably go to Wilson's Clay Pit in the morning as that is the most productive and easiest spot to collect. We will probably spend 4 or 5 hours there with an afternoon trip to excursion to a nearby spot or to the Lake Brownwood spillway. Bring your lunch and plenty to drink.
    Sunday - We will play it by ear. If we get a new spot to go to, we may shoot for it early in the morning. Otherwise, you can go on your own to revisit a spot or go to a spot where you haven't been. You have to leave the Brownwood area around 1:00 or so to get back to Houston at a decent hour.

Again, I will send out details on where and when to meet up in another e-mail.

Mike Dawkins: field_trips@hgms.org

2013 Club Field Trips

September 22, 2013

Waco Lake Research Pit:  I have planned a Paleo field trip to the Waco Lake Research Pit on Sunday,
September 22, 2013. We will talk about it briefly at our September 17 Paleo meeting.

If you plan to go, I will need an e-mail response as soon as possible with the following information as I have to reply to the US Army Corps of Engineers on the number of people going in to put on the permit:

  • Name or names (if you have riders)
  • Type of vehicle
  • Color of Vehicle
  • Vehicle license number

We will meet at the Research Pit parking lot between 8:00 and 8:20 a.m. It takes about 3 hours to get there from Southwest Houston.

We will head into the pit by or before 8:30 a.m. Children are allowed in the pit, but you cannot leave them there.

Where to go? The address of the COE office in your GPS will get you there. 3801 Zoo Park Dr., Waco, TX. You will get to the Pit parking area first (which will be on your left), so don't go all the way to the COE office..

This Google map link will show you where to park and the location of the COE office. Turn on the satellite view to see the parking area by the pushpin. You can see the map if you copy and past this into any browser, or highlight it, click right, and then click on "open link in new window" and then print the map.


What will you find there?

The Waco Pit was excavated to provide material for the Waco Lake dam. The pit cuts into what most Texans call the
"Del Rio Clay" (approximately 95-ish million years old), exposing a number of great fossils. Also known as the Grayson Formation, Grayson Marl, Del Rio Shale, etc., depending on what source you look at. In any case, it is Cretaceous, Cenomanian Stage, and is in the middle of the Washita Group sandwiched in between the underlying Georgetown Formation and the overlying Buda Limestone on the Texas geological map.

A person can observe pyritized fossils of ammonites of various types, gastropods, bivalves, and a few other things that occasionally get pyritized. Most of the fossils you will see are small.

Also found are other fossils (this list borrowed from Lance Hall), such as

Ammonites: Adkinsia, Engonoceras, Mantelliceras, Scaphites (loose coiled);  Heteromorph ammonites: Plesioturrilities, Mariella;  Baculites: (straight shelled ammonite);  Nautiloids:  Cymatoceras, rhyncholites (beaks);  Echinoids: Coenholectypus, Goniophorus, Salenia, Cidaris? (spines, plates); Asteroids: starfish, brittle stars;  Gastropods: Turritella;  Shark teeth: Cretalamna, Leptostyrax, Ptychodus, others;  Fish: Pycnodont teeth, loose vertebrae; Oysters: Gryphea, Ilymatogyra, Plicatula; Scallops: Neithea (Pecten); Brachiopods: Waconella (Kingena);  Coral: solitary corals   

I would suggest clothing that is weather-appropriate and poison ivy protective. Bring something to eat and lots of water to drink. Don't forget sun protection. Ziploc bag or small container for your fossils. A backpack or some other bag should be enough to carry all of your stuff. I also like knee pads when I collect.

The pit is a lot bigger than it looks and takes quite a while to maneuver around, should you decide to try to explore the whole thing. You probably cannot circumnavigate the pond completely without getting wet or getting into a lot of thick vegetation. There is a monster that lives in the pond, so look out! I've seen a duck vanish from the surface.

Don't bring a big shovel or rock pick as the COE frowns on that. A screwdriver or small implement is all you will need anyway.

Mike Dawkins

October 26, 2013

TXI quarry in Midlothian, Texas: The date and time this year is Saturday, October 26, 8:00 a.m. (yes, I said 8). 8:00 a.m. is when I plan be in the quarry, so be there between 7:30 and 7:45 a.m. You will be out at noon. You CANNOT stay longer. Kids that are at least 12 years old are permitted.

This year, the trip will once again coincide with the Fossilmania show, so after TXI, head on down to Glen Rose, TX and enjoy the show.

For those who don't know what this trip is all about, the quarry presents an opportunity to find Cretaceous marine fossils such as shark teeth, bones, shells, reptile and fish parts. Also, pyrite, septarian nodules, and other minerals. Since this is a working quarry, each trip is different. You may find very little or you may hit the jackpot. Past winners have found a gar skull, a fish, a Xiphactinus (a really big fish) jaw, mosasaur parts, carbonized wood, and some really nice teeth.

The trip groups are limited by TXI to 25 people each. You must be signed up for the trip to go. You cannot just show up and expect to get in.

Depending on the number of responses I get, my first choice will be to give the people that have never been to TXI before the first shot at going. If it gets ridiculous, I will just draw names out of a hat. I will wait a couple of weeks or so for responses before making any confirmations for the trip. That should give most people a chance to see the announcement and respond and give me a better idea of the interest in this particular trip. It is different every time.

This is a Paleo trip, so regular Paleo participants will also get greater consideration.

TXI is nice enough to let us in. We will be nice enough to always use good judgment and conduct ourselves in a safe manor. Do not stand near rock walls, as rocks can fall off. Hard hats are to be worn at all times. No littering.  If you see litter, please pick it up. Hard hats and safety glasses will be provided (and returned at the end of the trip), but if you have your own, please bring them.  A good idea to bring with you: steel toe shoes, knee pads, sun block, WATER.  No open-toed shoes or sandals. Long pants are required.  No shorts allowed. Cameras are now allowed, but only for pictures of the hunt. They prefer that you not take pictures of the equipment, operations, etc.

You may want to bring a rock hammer, chisel, ziplock bags for small fossils, pill bottles, a collecting bag for larger specimens, buckets, boxes, carts, or whatever you usually like to bring.

We will meet at the TXI Cement Quarry, 245 Ward Road, Midlothian, TX  76065, across the road from the TXI guard shack. Midlothian is just south of the Dallas/Fort Worth area.

We will meet between 7:30 and 7:45 a.m. so that I can collect the required paperwork and get everyone inside the gate before 8:00 a.m.


Those interested should respond to me (Mike Dawkins) at field_trips@hgms.org along with your cell phone number.Release forms, directions, and any other updates will be sent out in mid-October. This trip is subject to cancellation at TXI's discretion due to weather, etc., so I will send out one last update on the Thursday and/or Friday before the trip with the latest go / no-go status, so be sure and check your e-mail one last time on October 24 and 25.

 In order to shorten this Field Trips page, years 2012 - 1999 are on a separate page.
To access that page, Click Here.

Downloads—PDF files (Acrobat Reader is required for these files.)
Right-click to save target to your disk.


Houston Building Stones Walking Tour - guide and map
------Middle Eocene, Clairborne Group, Stone City Member at Whiskey Bridge at the Brazos River------

                        Whiskey Bridge, Eocene marine fossils
Locality info            Fossil Guide           Outcrop Guide
                        Collection Cards     Teachers Guide       Article on the site by Dr. Yancy   
Squid Beaks explained by Dr. Yancy

-----------------------------------Pennsylvanian, Finis Shale, Jacksboro spillway --------------------------------------

Article by Lobza, Schieber, and Nestell on the geology of the spillway. - 6 meg PDF

-------------Pennsylvanian, Winchell fm, Lake Brownwood spillway --13 meg PDF---------

Ph. D Thesis by Christie Lynn Schneider

---------------------------------Permian, Arroyo Fm, Seymour, Tx, HMNS dig site----------------------------

Xenacanth shark coprolite.--1.5 meg PDF

Xenacanth shark cartilage. -- 1.5 meg PDF

-------------------------------------------Wilson Clay Pit, Brown County------------------------------------------------

Shark Cartilage -- 1.5 meg PDF

--------------------------------------College Station Petrified Wood-------------------------------------

Article on Snakewood - 4 meg PDF



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HGMS Paleo Section
                    LogoAll materials copyright 2002, 2005 by the Houston Gem & Mineral Society. All rights reserved. For details or higher-resolution versions of the images, contact the Field Trip Chair.
Field Trip Chair:   Mike Dawkins
To avoid spammers, I attach a version of my e-mail address; change AT to an @:    mdawkins_2000ATyahoo.com