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Hidden Cincinnati: Prehistoric secrets are buried on this Sharonville hillside

Posted at 4:45 PM, Jul 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-22 21:31:57-04

SHARONVILLE, Ohio — There are ancient secrets buried in an unassuming hillside on Tramway Drive. Some are hundreds of millions of years old.

One of the best-preserved fossil deposits on the continent sits in Trammel Fossil Park, owned and operated by the city of Sharonville. Officials said it's a place where students of paleontology — amateurs or pros — can have a fulfilling excursion looking back into prehistory.

"If you want to study Earth's history, from 450 million years ago, the best place in North America to do it is here in Cincinnati," said Brenda Hunda, curator of invertebrate paleontology for the Cincinnati Museum Center. "I have paleontologists come here with me in the field and cry. I'm talking tears of joy when they see these fossils and how many there are, and we take it for granted."

WCPO met a young enthusiast, Michael Aiden, exploring the fossil site.

"I was really happy because I thought I was gonna find dinosaur bones," he said. "But I really found cool stuff."

Laura Glassman with Sharonville said the park became a treasure-trove for fossils because, millions of years ago, the entire area was underwater. But that's not the only reason the park is unique for fossil hunters.

"The one thing that's unique about Trammel Fossil Park is, if you've ever gone to any other park, they do not let you take the fossils," she said. "You can come here, and you can dig as many fossils as you like."

And it doesn't take long to find one. They're embedded in nearly every rock you find.

Another unique aspect of the park, Hunda said, is that it's not just an excavation site: You can plan a whole day here.

"This is a really great, accessible place," she said. "You know, bring a picnic lunch, bring the kiddos, make a day of it, and bring your buckets and your towels and have a good time. For some people, it's about getting the coolest fossil, the biggest piece, something the most complete, and that's awesome. For others, like myself, it's really more thinking about the entirety of what it is that we're actually seeing here."