Fossil Hunting At Red Caboose Park!


One day, while looking for kid friendly activities in the Nashville area I stumbled across brochure listing fossil locations in Tennessee. Since that day, we've made several trips out to look for and collect fossils. On reviewing the list, Red Caboose Park stuck out to me since it would be somewhere that would give them a chance to play and burn off some energy before and after our fossil hunting adventure.

Find it on Google Maps

Parking in the lot, it's a short walk up the sidewalk on Hwy 70 with the playground, red caboose that is the park's namesake, and log cabin on your right.


Hwy 70 on your left, just walk up the sidewalk with the playground on your right


As you walk along the sidewalk, you'll see a wall of rock on your right. If you take a close look you'll see a ton of fossils both embedded in the rock and on the ground where the rock has crumbled away. It's incredible to think that these fossils were held in the rock for millions of years until the rock was cut to make way for the road and have since been working there way out as the rock crumbles.

There are several varieties including brachiopods which were clam-like filter feeds that lived on the seafloor during the Paleozoic Era.


Brachiopod

Brachiopod

Mollusk, Gastropod fossils are also commonly found as well as bryozoans which are known as "moss animals" that were invertebrates that lived in colonies.


My oldest son finding a Mollusk, Gastropod

The rock where these fossils are found is part of the Leipers Formation and date back to the Ordovician period which spanned from 443-485 million years ago when the land that now makes up Tennessee was part of a shallow sea.


PaleoPortal.com's world map of the Ordovician period

This is why you'll find these marine fossils just about anywhere you go in Tennessee! At Red Caboose Park, you'll find a ton of these fossils, but please try to be considerate of others looking to fossil hunt and only keep 1-2 of your favorites so there will be plenty for others. The city periodically clears away the rock debris and more fall so luckily there should be plenty to find.

Please take special note that this location is along a busy road so be very careful with small children who might be excited to jump from one fossil to the next and not pay attention to the sometimes heavy traffic.



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