Fossil Hunting in upstate New York


A straigtht shell Nautiloid/Cephelapod from the Devonian Era

Upstate New York is an interesting place to look for fossils.  The ice ages stripped most of the upper layers that would contain dinosaurs or larger fauna, but left some of the earliest eras of life on Earth near the surface.  You may not find a dinosaur, but the Silurian and Devonian eras are within a few inches of the surface in some places.  The fossils in these two eras record life as it began to differentiate and grow in complexity.  Trilobites and Eurypterids are common fossils in both eras.  The Eurypterid is the state fossil of New York.  Modern descendents of Eurypterids include Horseshoe crabs and scorpions.  Here are a couple fossil sites in upstate NY. If you need directions to each site,just zoom out on the Google map a bit.

DSC_0003A Devonian Trilobite

Pittsford Plaza This site is an old section of the Erie Canal that was bypassed during an enlargement late in the 19th century. It is right behind the modern shopping center. If you look closely, you can even make out an abandoned canal lock. This section of the canal cuts through something called Pittsford Shale. Here is a description of fossils that can be found there.  EDIT: I scouted the Pittsford site and posted about it HERE.  I think a better place to search for fossils would be behind the Spring House instead of the Wegman’s Plaza.  HERE is a google map of the site.  It’s a few hundred yards North of the abandoned canal lock.

DSC_0007Fossilized Silurian Seabed

East Bethany railroad It’s a little hard to make out on this Google map, they don’t have high resolution pictures of this area. Here is a road map version. The railroad cut off of Francis road was abandoned years ago. The site is just south of Francis road. The railroad cuts through a large hill that contains many fossils. this site is full of clams and other Devonian fossils. It’s very easy to find surface fossils here. A great site for beginners (like me)

EDIT: I went back to the East Bethany site:

DSC_0012A Devonian Trilobite

Long Pond Road Park on the circle of Marina Drive. This is a working part of the Erie Canal, so you have to go there when the canal is drained during the winter. I haven’t been there yet, but I’ve heard that this site doesn’t have a lot of fossils, but does have high quality specimens. The best place to search is to the east of the parking area.

Posted in OSTH. 39 Comments »

39 Responses to “Fossil Hunting in upstate New York”

  1. shay Says:

    Growing up in upstate NY I went on a geology trip and discovered many fossils! In and around the Cooperstown area, heading North toward the adrondacks there are many cut bedrock along the sides of the road where you can find fossils. Also, in the Oneonta area there are fossils.
    Shay 🙂

  2. Tracy Says:

    Your site is great! Any fossil hunting tips near the Binghamton area? My kids are interested and I’d like to encourage them.


  3. seregaborzov Says:

    Great!!! Very cool -)))

  4. connie Says:

    I just moved to Oneonta not too long ago, where is the best place to look?

    • Matt P Says:

      I know this is old, but over in Edmeston (I used to take chickens there) there’s a stone quarry, any rocks outcrops along the road near that should produce something.

  5. Lea Says:

    I got to this site by googling fossils+Oneonta. I go up there Thanksgiving to visit relatives. You have a very interesting site here! In fact we have a lot in common: photography, animal rescue and just getting out and looking for stuff! Will definately come back and visit to see more. You seem like a really good guy!

  6. ian grigorio Says:

    awesome site…..i live in mass and are planning a trip to ny to find fossils but i only have a weekend in april…i need help please can you give me a list of locations where i can dig and take specimines for my own collection. i do not sell i keep. i would really appreciate it

  7. Geology Links for May 8th, 2009 | The Geology News Blog Says:

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  8. Erin Harris Says:

    My husband and I go to Chimney Bluffs out by Sodus a lot. Mostly they have only crinoid stems. We have, however, found some nice big ones there. Most of the time you do have to get wet to find them. You could also try shallow water snorkeling to find some there.

  9. Donna Richardson Says:

    Unfortunately, these sites are either no longer accessible, private property, sparse, or all of the above. I drove by the East Bethany site and the old bridge is gone; the road cut is almost entirely filled in under the new bridge. The Pittsford site was a famous one during the Erie Canal building for its eurypterids, but there hasn’t been anything meaningful there for 175 years. Long Pond is so picked over by trilobite hunters it’s practically barren. Try some gullies around Canandaigua Lake and the Genesee River.

  10. altonenb Says:

    Do you know of a quartz crystal-pyrite bed of brachiopods in the Stone Ridge vicinity? It was at an old quarry site. I used to go there often during childhood. Its fossils could be found easily because they glistened in the sun.

  11. raven Says:

    Is the East Bethany Railroad site also in Pittsford and is it still accessible to the public? If not how does one get there? Thank you.

  12. baby safety gates Says:

    Some really superb information, Glad I found this.

  13. Fred Levison. Says:

    Their are alot of great places in the norwood area to hunt fossils. Also the tug hill platue area is very good.

  14. Filiz Ozak-Sevil Says:

    Hello, do you arrange any fossil hunting trips/walks for kids? I would like to go to one with my 7-year old son. Any info will be greatly appreciated.


    • npanth Says:

      I don’t arrange any trips, I’m just an amateur. is a great place to take kids. They have a lot of educational information and you’re almost guaranteed to find some great fossils. Bring a big bag, there are a lot of things to find there.

  15. william morse Says:

    looking to buy fossils

  16. Photos: Fossil hunting in Bethany | The Batavian | Hunting Says:

    […] on a little Google search, I came across a fossil hunting blog by James Heaney.  He says Western New York — and Lann said this, too — is a great place for fossil […]

  17. Mikeymig Says:

    The first photo is of a straight shelled Nautiloid a Cephalopod not a Crinoid stem. I have a Facebook page of some great fossils I find and have found in Western NY. Miglietta Museum of Natural History. Please feel free to check out my photos and I conduct field trips from this page.

    • npanth Says:

      Thanks. I had a lot of trouble trying to classify that fossil. A Crinoid seemed to be the closest fit in the diagrams I was looking at. I’ll modify the picture caption.

  18. Lynell Says:

    There is definately a lot to find out about this subject.
    I love all of the points you’ve made.

  19. water damage oakland Says:

    My brother recommended I might like this web site. He was entirely right.
    This post actually made my day. You cann’t imagine just how much time I had spent for this information! Thanks!

    • npanth Says:

      Thanks. I had similar trouble finding good fossil hunting sites in this area. I worked at a school a few years ago, and was able to get an old journal from a geology teacher that pointed the way to these sites. I thought I would share the sites to make it easier for other people.

  20. L.Knoll Says:

    Hi.. nice site. I,m an amateur fossil hunter/trilobite hunter /collector, especially Devonian Moroccan “bugs”. We try to get out in NYS in summer to hunt but retail business cuts into our time . we’ve found that the west edge of the Adks, like Trenton gorge area is a possibility, as is Whetstone Gulf. Also Wells has a working quarry that sometimes you can get permission to hunt if they’re not active. Caution! Always get permission! Don”t screw it up for the rest of us! LLBugLady

  21. Dan Says:

    Glen Park on Main St in Williamsville NY. This is a really cool little park with a powerful 3 step waterfall, an old mill and easy access to fossil bearing rocks etc in the back right corner of the park… the part of the park that is right against main street. This is the Niagra Escarpment.

  22. Peter Valenti Says:

    Thanks! I wish I found this site years ago. I am a geology student from the Rochester area and I’ve been looking for a site just like this.

  23. Hannah Says:

    Hi. I’m looking for someone or somewhere where I can get a fossil identified. I found it in my driveway and it seems to be a chicken or reptile of some sort in a fetal position; possibly in an egg?? I have pictures. Let me know if you can be of any help to me. I hope so!!

    • Mikey Says:

      I could help and friends of mine on The Fossil Forum. Sign up (it’s free & takes a minute) and post your find under the fossil ID section.


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  26. Derek Says:

    What’s up to all, how is everything, I think every one is getting more from this web site, and your views are nice for new visitors.

  27. Shauna Says:

    I just wanted to add another site for some great fossils- Caledonia, NY, south of Rochester. I don’t know much about identifying fossils, but I used to find lots of corals, sponges, and other sea creatures in the rocks there. The bedrock is right at the surface, and it is all limestone seabed.

  28. Jamey L McDermott Says:

    I’m between Keuka and Seneca lakes — I’ve found a few fossils but is there a place near to here that would be a good hunt ?

  29. SensiblePrimate Says:

    Scientists Discovered 558 Million Years Old Fossils Of An Animal

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