This Saturday we took a disappointing trip. I’d be interested if any of you readers know what we did wrong.
I had heard that Manning Canyon was a premier location for fossil hunting–that the shale in the clay pits there contained a wide variety of plant and animal life from the Mississippian and Pennsylvanian ages. We couldn’t contain our enthusiasm, so last Saturday we headed around Utah Lake toward Fivemile Pass to see what we could find.
Manning Canyon is wide and long, running up to a mountain peak in the far southern tip of the Oquirrh mountains. Just over the hill to the west is the huge Mercur gold mine. The Manning Canyon shale is reportedly grey and black, and it sits above a large layer of (ordovician?) blue limestone. Back in the day it was called Lewiston canyon, and contained gold mines and a small town, with a cyanide mill for collecting the gold. More recently it seems to have been used mostly for off-roading, due to its proximity to Fivemile Pass.
The canyon can be reached by driving south from Cedar Fort on Hwy 73 and turning west on a dirt road. I misjudged the turnoff and ended up getting lost. We eventually found a rutted road heading in that direction and winded our way there. When we arrived at the mouth of the canyon, we saw a number of signs designating road closures. The main road was straight, newly-graded, and paved with gravel, but apparently the entire area was closed…
We visited some nearby areas to try to find the Manning Shale formation. We saw an outcropping of the blue limestone, poked around for a few minutes and found a few shells and crinoids, then climbed up the hill a little to see if we could find the shale seams, but didn’t see much.
I had assumed that the Manning shale layer would be down in the clay pits, but it might possibly be up in the hills. I’m sure there are many other places nearby where we can find these fossils. Could anyone enlighten us on the subject?