Fossil Hunting in MN

4Last summer, my fiance and I went on a fossil hunting expedition and had a fantastic time doing it. It’s something we’ll be doing more of in the future.

Most of the fossil hunting sites in MN are in ditches or road cuts. Digging in the ditch on the side of a road may not exactly be the glamorous expedition you had in mind when you first considered hunting for fossils, but that’s were they are. Take it or leave it.

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This rock is fully loaded with fossils. I can see some crinoids, some brachiopods, and some bryozoans.

But, don’t let the undignified nature of the hunt discourage you, the fossils in the area are from the Ordovician period, so they are 440 to 480 million years old. Not too bad for something you can find on the side of a road.

Our first fossil hunting expedition was in Goodhue county, off of Highway 56 just north of a town called Wangs (according to the map, at least. We never did figure out exactly were Wangs was. My theory is that it is one of those haunted towns that appears only at night).

Here’s a link to a very handy document on MN fossil collecting from Winona State University. It gives directions to a few good locations, and will help you identify what you find. There is some outdated information in the file, though: the site near Cannon Falls, on County 25 Blvd doesn’t seem to be accessible anymore.

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Since they are so small, they almost look more impressive left in the rock.

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I did get these out.

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8 Comments on “Fossil Hunting in MN”

  1. Jim Says:

    Wangs is up the hill at the intersection with County Road 9. There used to be about three buildings there.

  2. Ed DeJean Says:

    You realize , of course, that these fossils were alive sometime within the last 6,404 years?


    • That’s what the group the went fossil hunting after us believe. They were convinced the fossils were evidence of the “great” flood. Funny how the smaller things settled down to the bottom, unlike other sediment.

    • Dooly Says:

      Your off by about 400 million years

  3. Josh Says:

    there is lots of fossil’s in cannon falls you just have to know where to look

    • james Says:

      Where? I am a 4th grade teacher and I want to find some really nice fossils for my class. I have a couple of days in June to hunt for them. Could you send me some “specific” directions?
      thanks, jim

    • Victor Says:

      James, the easiest location would be Lilydale Park. I believe permission is required (a quick form available on their website). Otherwise the other locations are listed on page 4 of this pdf (ftp://mgssun6.mngs.umn.edu/pub2/mnglance/Mn_Fossils.pdf). Some are not the easiest to find. If I ever make my way back there I may take GPS coordinates to make it easier for others to find.


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