n the process of building a high quality dam at Caesar Creek, the Corps of Engineers created a spillway. The spillway is an area just to the southeast of the dam that has been blasted away to a level 12 feet lower than the top of the dam. This will allow the lake's overflow to run past the dam and not over the top of it and damage it. The spillway, therefore, acts like an emergency valve if the lake level grows to a dangerous height.
The layer of rock exposed by blasting away the hillside is about 450 million years old. At that time, southwest Ohio rested at the bottom of a shallow ocean. The sediment of that sea blanketed the animals that lived on the bottom and with time and pressure, helped preserve their bodies as fossils.
Today, these hardened animals are just lying on the exposed layer of earth in the spillway, waiting to be found. The vast majority of the fossils are brachiopods, or clam like creatures, but there are plenty of bryozoans and corals as well. Less common fossils are the flowerlike fossils called crinoids and gastropods or snails. Most difficult to find are the squids or celphalopods and Ohio's State Fossil, the Isotelus trilobite.
Fossils may be observed in the spillway at any time but the collection of natural formations is prohibited without the permission of the Corps Engineers. To collect fossils, visitors must first check in at the Corps office or the Visitor Center.
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