Fossil Collecting in Ohio

From Ohio History Central

Fossils are abundant in some beds of all Paleozoic rocks in Ohio and collecting, identifying, and preparing specimens has long been a gratifying and educational hobby for many Ohioans of all ages. Ordovician rocks in southwestern Ohio are known worldwide for the abundance and excellent preservation of invertebrate fossils and even a beginner will be rewarded with a variety of specimens. Every collector, from beginner to advanced, is encouraged to consult the book, Fossils of Ohio, available from the Division of Geological Survey of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. In addition to extensive chapters and photographs of fossils from the state, the book has considerable information on collecting and preparing fossils. The photographs and explanatory text, written by paleontologists, are key to identifying fossils. There are many references to areas and sites for collecting specific fossils.

Almost all land in Ohio belongs to private owners; always OBTAIN PERMISSION before collecting on private property. Most quarries and strip mines are off limits to collecting because they are inherently dangerous due to mining activities and high walls that may collapse. Outcrops along roads and streams may yield good specimens. Extreme care should be exercised along roads. Stopping or collecting is prohibited along Interstate highways. Collecting is prohibited in national, state, county, and municipal parks unless such activities are permitted in designated areas. Hueston Woods State Park ( Preble County) and Caesar Creek State Park ( Warren County) have areas designated for collecting Ordovician fossils. Lodi City Park ( Medina County) permits collecting in Mississippian rocks (Meadville Shale). A permit must be obtained from the Visitor Center at Caesar Creek before collecting.

Once fossils have been collected, it may be necessary to clean them of excess rock. It is very important that labels identifying the species (if known), precise location where found, date of collecting, and the collector. Fossils that may be scientifically important lose much of their scientific value is such information is not recorded, especially the collecting locality.

See Also


  1. Feldmann, R. M., 1996. "Introduction," in Fossils of Ohio, edited by R. M. Feldmann and Merrianne Hackathorn. Ohio Division of Geological Survey Bulletin 70, p. 1-25.