Field Trips


Paleozoic Vertebrates of the Ohio River Valley Area
October 16-17, 2023

This is a two-day trip covering vertebrate fossil sites in the Devonian, Carboniferous, and Permian of Ohio, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania. Sites preserving both marine and freshwater faunas will be explored. We will travel across the entire width of the Cincinnati arch, and see rocks deposited prior to the deformation of the arch, as well as deposition in the nearby Dunkard Basin. Dense horizons of vertebrate fossils will be seen in Devonian carbonates, where we expect to see the remains of acanthodians, sharks, lobe-fined fishes, and the possibility of placoderms on the first day. On the second day we will look at bonebeds in nearshore carboniferous clastics which preserve a record of chondrichthyans, bony fishes, and occasional early tetrapods. We will also view bone beds in freshwater limestones, where we expect to see body fossils from xenacanth sharks, hybodont sharks, Bony fishes, and the rare possibility of temnospondyl amphibians and synapsid amniotes. Nearby interbedded terrestrial mudstone and sandstone deposits of early Permian age can be rich in tetrapod trackways from temnospondyls, lepospondyls, and synapsid amniotes.

Begins: 7:30 AM, October 16, at the Duke Energy Conference Center in Cincinnati, Ohio

Ends: 8:00PM, October 17, at the Duke Energy Conference Center

Venue: Fossil sites near East Liberty, Columbus, Caldwell, Cambridge, and Marietta Ohio, Clarksburg, West Virginia, and Washington, Pennsylvania. Visited fossil exhibits will include the Permian exhibition at the Campus Martius Museum in Marietta.

Cost: $250 per person
Cost includes: Transportation, lodging for one night, and a field trip guide

Minimum number of participants: 7
Maximum number of participants: 15

What to wear and bring: Clothing and shoes for mild to moderate hiking less than 1.5 miles or 2.5 kilometers. Clothing suitable for temperatures between freezing (32 degrees F; 0 degrees C) and mildly cold conditions (50 degrees F; 10 degrees C). A backpack, rain jacket, sunscreen, water bottle, and hand lens may be useful. Hammers, picks, and/or pry-bars will be beneficial at some sites.

Physical capabilities: Participants must be able to hike at least 1.5 miles or 2.5 km over moderate terrain. They should be equipped to deal with sporadic but prolonged exposure to wind, sun, or rain. It is also suggested that each participant be able to carry at least 10lbs or 4.5kg.

Children: Anyone 15 and over is welcome

Leaders: Chuck Ciampaglio, Don Esker , Ryan Shell, David Peterman, David Jeffery


Mammoth Cave National Park
October 16-17, 2023

Visit Mammoth Cave and see paleontology at the world’s longest cave. The 412 miles of Mammoth Cave are carved into limestone dating to the Middle and Late Mississippian. As these cave passages have been formed by dissolution, Mississippian fossils have been exposed in the walls of the cave. One stop will allow people to see shark cartilage and shark and ratfish teeth exposed (as well as abundant invertebrates) in the walls of a cave passage that is not open to the public. 70 species of Mississippian fish have been identified from this geologic horizon! After the cave formed in the late Neogene and Quaternary, remains of Pleistocene and Holocene animals accumulated in them. Stops will include a past entrance with interglacial deposits and fossil mammals, bat roosts from past use of the cave by large free-tail bat colonies, a fossil vampire bat locality, and prehistoric bat roosts that show effects of commercialization of the cave. We will also discuss how management actions have impacted past bat use of the cave and fossil deposits.

Because the trip is in a national park, no collecting will be allowed.

Cost per person: $195

Minimum number of participants: 12
Maximum number of participants: 15

Depart: 8:00am, October 16, 2023, Hyatt Regency Hotel, 151 W. 5th St., Cincinnati, OH 45202
Return: October 17, 2023, Hyatt Regency Hotel ~5:00 pm

Physical Capabilities:

  • All sites will be on prepared tour trails
  • Approximately 4 miles of total hiking in cave
  • Longest segment 3 miles along Violet City Lantern Tour with several hills and staircase
  • Most trails will not have fixed electric lighting
  • Most trails will be dirt and will have uneven parts.
  • Park will provide hardhat and headlamps for use
  • Cave is 13°C (55°F), so a light jacket is recommended
  • Sturdy hiking shoes or boots are required

Lodging will be at the Cave Research Foundation’s Hamilton Valley facility. This is dormitory style housing with bunk rooms for up to four people per room. You will need to bring a towel and bedding/bedroll. For people coming from farther away, we may be able to loan bedding and towels. More on this facility can be found at

Lunches on October 16 and 17, a continental breakfast on October 17, and snacks are included in the trip cost. Dinner on October 16 will be at the restaurant at the park hotel and will be paid for by the individual.

Because we will be traveling in 12 passenger vans, there will be limited space for luggage. Please respect a one-bag limit for the trip.

Trip Leaders: Rick Toomey — Cave Specialist, Mammoth Cave National Park, 270-758-2145; Vincent Santucci – Paleontology Program Coordinator, NPS; JP Hodnett — Dinosaur Park Paleontologist, M-NCPPC, Department of Parks and Recreation


Visit to the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis
October 17, 2023
8:00 am – 5:00 pm

Purpose: Give the opportunity for participants to visit the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis (TCMI). The museum recently added in two new fossil galleries and updated their existing galleries all with a strong DEAI initiative. Galleries include fossils collected from the museum’s Late Jurassic dig site in Wyoming, a Mesozoic marine fossil gallery, a Cretaceous fossil gallery, and a paleo art gallery. Iconic specimens include the Tyrannosaurus, Bucky, as well as the type specimens of Dracorex and Prenoceratops.

Participants will also be given the opportunity to do a tour of the paleo prep lab and the Natural Science Collections. The lab is on view to the public and also acts as a fully functional prep lab equipped with everything needed for large specimen prep. The lab staff will be available to answer questions for those interested in the various types of equipment and techniques used. The Natural Science collections staff will also be available for questions and can help with facilitating research visits and loans. Highlights from the collections include the disarticulated skull of our Gorgosaurus, Edmontosaurus and Hell Creek microfossils collected over 16 years from the Ruth Mason Quarry, diplodocid and microfossils from the Museum’s Morrison dig site, extensive extant malacology, and avian oology collection, as well as mineralogy.

Venue: The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis

Materials Provided: Transportation by coach bus provided. Food will be available for purchase at the museum cafeteria.

Physical capabilities: Please note that while access to the TCMI building and all public facilities within the museum are ADA compliant, the provided coach bus is unable to accommodate those with wheelchairs. However, the museum Welcome Center does have wheelchairs available at no charge. For those that wish to participate in the optional tours, the paleo prep lab and the Natural Science Collections are also ADA compliant.

Please visit the museum’s website for more information regarding accessibility.

Organizer: Laura Rooney, Curator of Paleontology

Cost per person: $60

Minimum/Maximum number of participants: 35/50

Minimum age requirement: 18


Southern Ohio Prehistoric Earthwork Tour
October 17, 2023
8:30 am – 6:00 pm

Join Cincinnati Museum Center archaeologists for a tour of iconic southern Ohio prehistoric earthwork sites, to include Serpent Mound, the pre-eminent effigy mound in North America, Hopewell Culture National Historical Park (Mound City), and Fort Ancient State Memorial, the world’s largest hilltop enclosure. The first is on the tentative list for World Heritage inscription and the last two are currently waiting inscription for World Heritage status.

At approximately one-quarter mile in length, Serpent Mound is the longest snake effigy in the world. Situated on a ridge saddle overlooking a major stream, it forms a coiled serpent with a head swallowing either an egg or the sun. Conflicting radiocarbon dates place the effigy between approximately 300 BCE and 1070 CE. Serpent offers an elevated viewing tower and a small museum detailing the history of the earthwork. The valley below the effigy forms the western rim of a four-mile wide circular crater, the eroded remains of an ancient crypto-explosion, determined to be a Permian-aged asteroid collision (astrobleme) resulting in a central uplift of nearly 1000 feet and a corresponding subsidence along the rim of nearly 400 feet. This “disturbance” was first noted by Cincinnatian Dr. John Locke in 1838.

Hopewell Culture National Historical Park, located in Chillicothe, Ohio is a collection of six earthwork sites dating to the Hopewell Period, ca. 1 CE to 400 CE. Our visit will be to Mound City, the flagship site of the park. Located along the edge of a broad river valley, with unglaciated uplands as a backdrop, Mound City comprises two-dozen densely clustered mounds surrounded by an earthen embankment or earthwork. Excavations over the years have revealed structure floor plans and exotic artifacts of mica and copper.

Of the many Hopewell-age hilltop enclosures in Ohio and neighboring states, Fort Ancient is by far the largest and best preserved. Situated on a high plateau above a state and national scenic river, Fort Ancient boasts two miles of embankment walls, more than 100 constructed ponds, and 84 openings or gateways. This massive prehistoric undertaking encloses over 100 acres. Excavations over the last 100 plus years have revealed areas of domestic and ritual use.

Cost – $55
Cost includes van transportation, admission fees*, Guide to Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks pamphlet, and box lunch with drinks

Minimum number of participants – 12
Maximum number of participants – 24

*the Fort Ancient Museum is an additional fee of $6/7 per person at their discretion.

Physical Capabilities – The tour incorporates good accessibility at each of its sites, although accessibility varies. The terrain at all three sites is relatively flat with only minor areas of relief. At Mound City and Serpent Mound, trailways are paved, while at Fort Ancient, trails are in mulch or low grass. Hiking distance at each of the sites is relatively short. Mound City is completely wheelchair accessible, although rental vans for the tours will not accommodate wheelchairs.

Tour Leaders: – Robert Genheimer, Rieveschl Curator of Archaeology, Cincinnati Museum Center, and Tyler Swinney, Tribal Liaison/NAGPRA Coordinator, CMC.


Big Bone Lick: Birthplace of American Vertebrate Paleontology
October 17, 2023
9:00 am – 5:00 pm

“As no other place hitherto discovered in the Union has afforded such quantities of huge animal remains, and as the first ever transmitted to the philosophers of Europe, were collected here, the Big Bone Valley deserves, among naturalists, a classical distinction. It is indeed well worth a visit from those who can relish the sentiments and the speculations excited by contemplating the ruins of the largest animal species which have appeared on our globe. And if, according to Mr. Jefferson, the passage of the Potomac through the Blue Ridge, be a scene worth a voyage across the Atlantic – the tomb of the mammoths will certainly reward the traveler of taste and science, for a journey from Cincinnati.”

—Daniel Drake, Natural and Statistical View; or Picture of Cincinnati and the Miami Country, p. 197

This one-day field trip will journey to Big Bone Lick, Kentucky, where participants will visit a salt spring, outdoor diorama, and museum interpreting the National Natural Landmark. Following lunch, stops will be made at (1) Dinsmore Woods to see a “buffalo trace” created by bison frequenting the Lick; (2) Devou Park to review the pre-glacial and glacial events responsible for the preservation of Pleistocene animal bones and teeth at the Lick; and (3) Cincinnati Museum Center’s Geier Collections and Research facility to inspect fossils and Native American artifacts discovered at the Lick, as well as an 1807 letter that William Clark (of Lewis & Clark fame) wrote at the Lick to inform General James Findlay of the skeletal remains that Clark had thus far collected for President Thomas Jefferson.

Begins: 9:00 a.m. on Tuesday, October 17, at the Hyatt Regency, 151 West Fifth Street, Cincinnati

Ends: 5:00 p.m. at the Hyatt Regency

Venues: Big Bone Lick State Historic Site (Union, Kentucky), Dinsmore Woods Nature Preserve (Boone County, Kentucky), Devou Park (Covington, Kentucky), Geier Collections and Research Center (Cincinnati, Ohio)

Cost: $75.00 per person
Cost Includes: Bus transportation, admissions, lunch and guidebook

Minimum Number of Participants: 30 (excluding the leaders)
Maximum Number of Participants: 40 (excluding the leaders)

What to Wear or Bring with You: Outerwear for autumn weather, and rain gear if necessary; a water bottle might be useful

Physical Capabilities: Ability to walk on trails, perhaps muddy, for about a mile

Children: Under 12 not allowed

Leaders: H. Gregory McDonald, Richard Arnold Davis, Eric Scott, Stanley E. Hedeen


Downtown Cincinnati Walking Tour
October 19, 2023 or October 20, 2023
10:00 am – 12:00 pm

This 2 hour, approximately 2.5 mile guided walking tour will focus on the architecture and history of downtown Cincinnati.

Tour meets at the Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza/Carew Tower, one of the world’s great examples of French Art Deco design. See the iconic 1866 Roebling Suspension Bridge. Walk through Fountain Square, to the historic Over-the-Rhine district, once a thriving and energetic German neighborhood. Hear about Cincinnati’s glorious Music Hall and the Ingalls Building, the world’s first reinforced concrete skyscraper. View examples of Beaux Arts, Italianate, Chicago School, and Renaissance Revival architecture. Several buildings are listed on the National Historic Register.

Begins: 10:00 am, Thursday October 19, in the Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza hotel registration lobby
Ends: 12:00 pm, October 19, at the Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza


Begins: 10:00 am, Friday October 20, in the Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza hotel registration lobby
Ends: 12:00 pm, October 20, at the Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza

Cost: $25 per person per tour. Please indicate which tour you will attend.

Minimum number of participants: 5 per tour
Maximum number of participants: 20 per tour

Minimum age requirement: 14 (14 –17-year-olds must be accompanied by a parent or guardian).

What to wear and bring: Comfortable, sturdy shoes and dress appropriate for mid-October weather conditions in Cincinnati – warm to cold, wet to dry. Bring a camera if desired.

Physical capabilities: Participants must be able to walk 2.5 miles through an urban landscape.

Leaders: Janice Forte, 513-607-3039, and Kat Lang, Cincinnati Heritage Programs


Exploring a Sea without Fish: Late Ordovician Stratigraphy and Paleoecology of the Cincinnati Arch Region
October 22, 2023
8:30 am – 6:30 pm

The tri-state region of Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana is world famous for its type-Cincinnatian Series rocks and fossils, which have undergone over 175 years of professional study. This one-day field trip explores the geology, paleontology, and stratigraphy of these Upper Ordovician rocks throughout the Cincinnati Arch region in order to gain insight on the climate and ecology of this geologically and historically significant region during Late Ordovician times.

Although the rocks of the Cincinnatian Series are characteristically devoid of vertebrate fossil material in their type area, the quality and abundance of invertebrate fossils they contain is unmatched, and their utility in understanding the paleobiology and paleoenvironmental systems during Late Ordovician times is invaluable. This interval has been recognized as one of substantial intracratonic flooding, and dynamic fluctuations in both climate and sea level. Moreover, the paleoceanographic changes recorded in Cincinnatian rocks are accompanied by an episode of major ecological change known as the Richmondian Invasion. This trip will facilitate the investigation of these and other factors at play in Laurentia during the Late Ordovician through the examination of carefully selected and easily accessible outcrops.

The trip will begin in metropolitan Cincinnati, towards the middle of the Arch, where some of the oldest Cincinnatian strata are exposed. Here, we will overview the geologic and paleontologic history of the Cincinnati Arch and see firsthand the stratigraphic architecture used throughout the region. We will then travel south into Kentucky, across the Ohio River (I-471) for classic sections of the Edenian Kope Formation at Fort Thomas, Kentucky and optionally at New Palestine, Ohio (distinct from and 286 miles from East Palestine, site of the notorious rail disaster!); afternoon trip will feature a tour through a complete succession of richly fossiliferous upper Kope, and Maysvillian Fairview, and Grant Lake formations at Lawrenceburg, Indiana and the noted Trammel Fossil Park. Will return to the meeting hotel by ~6:30 PM. Discussions will focus on depositional environments, sequence stratigraphy, and paleoecology. The collection of invertebrate fossil material is encouraged, and plastic bags will be provided for this purpose.

Cost: $80

Minimum number of participants: 12 (excluding organizers/leaders)
Maximum number of participants: 25 (excluding organizers/leaders)

Cost Includes: Transportation via vans, lunch, and a field trip guidebook.

Physical Capabilities: Must be able to walk on moderate terrain for short distances. Children 8 and older are welcome if accompanied by an adult.

Depart: 8:30 a.m. Sunday, 22 October, 2023 from the Hyatt Regency Hotel, 151 W. 5th St., Cincinnati, OH 45202
Return: 6:30 p.m. Sunday, 22 October, 2023 to the Hyatt Regency Hotel, 151 W. 5th St., Cincinnati, OH 45202

Venue: A series of roadcuts throughout the Cincinnati Arch region of Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana.

Recommended clothing and items to bring:

  • Clothing, covering arms and legs
  • Hat
  • Jacket/Rain jacket
  • Outdoor footwear
  • Water bottle
  • Snacks
  • Sunscreen
  • Hammers, picks, and chisels are not necessary; bags will be available for collecting

Organizers/Leaders: Cameron Schwalbach, Brenda Hunda, Carlton Brett, Ben Datillo, Kyle Hartshorn


Gray Fossil Site & Museum
October 22-23, 2023

Participants will visit the Gray Fossil Site, one of only a few pre-Pleistocene Cenozoic fossil vertebrate sites in eastern North America (outside of Florida), and the only one in the Appalachians. Participants will tour the museum and fossil site, which will include seeing exhibits, ongoing excavations, the prep lab, and collections. Leaders will highlight the diverse fauna and flora preserved at the site, which includes over 100 animal species and 100 plant species. Leaders will also discuss karst landscapes and sinkhole formation, as well as the unique forest ecosystem represented by the fossils preserved at the site.

Dates: October 22 – 23, 2023; leaving 8:00AM on the 22nd from the Hilton Cincinnati Netherlands Plaza. Returning on the evening of the 23rd.

Venue: East Tennessee State University (ETSU) Museum of Natural History and the Gray Fossil Site

Cost – $235
Cost includes van transportation to and from Cincinnati and 1 night’s lodging in Tennessee, but meals are excluded.

Minimum number of participants: 10
Maximum number of participants: 18

Physical Capabilities – The ETSU Museum of Natural History is designed to be accessible and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant. All areas visited (exhibit gallery, prep lab, collections, overlook of excavation pits) should be accessible to all participants. Tour of the entire facility and exterior excavations would require moving less than 1 km (little exertion), there will be no walking over rough terrain, no hiking, and all movement of participants will be over tiled interior surfaces of buildings (stairs or elevator) or across paved/level gravel exterior walkways.

Recommended items to bring: Camera, notebook, hat, sunglasses

Trip Leaders: Dr. Joshua X. Samuels, Dr. Steven Wallace, Dr. Blaine Schubert, Dr. Chris Wigda, Shawn Haugrud, April Nye, David Moscato

East Tennessee State University
Museum of Natural History & Gray Fossil Site
PO Box 70357
Johnson City, TN 37614-1709