Cedar Creek Quarry, Bardstown, Kentucky

Commonly known as the Bardstown Quarry, this limestone/dolostone operation closed in 2019 or 2020. A new quarry about five miles away replaces it. Essentially, they used up the resources on their property.

The quarry’s fame is the abundance of Stenthocalymene celebra trilobites steinkerns. I collected them in parking lot gravel in the 1970s on families trips to the town. I’ve seen them for sale at rock shows as far aware as New Hampshire.

The quarry stratigraphy is pretty simple – Laurel Formation and tiny bit of Waldron Shale both Middle Silurian with nothing to collect, and residual soil containing abundant chert from the Beechwood Limestone, Givetian, Middle Devonian.

In addition to trilobites (which occur in layers), an echinoderm areas was encountered in the 1980s. Pentamerus brachiopods reaching 3-inches (8 cm) were noted about the same time. The Devonian fauna was dominated by corals and sponges. The sponge Hindia sphaeroidalis is known from chert nodules throughout the Bardstown area. Crack open a nodule and sometimes the sponge would pop out, rest in the center surrounded by blackish clay, or been in cross-section if the chert was solid.

The most spectacular coral was Heliophyllum ingens (Billingsastrea ingens in Stumm 1965 book on the Corals of the Falls of the Ohio). The late Devonian rugose coral expert, William Oliver, Jr., published a USGS professional paper, 869, on colonial rugose corals and determined that Stumm’s Billingsastrea in the Kentuckiana area were a colonial form of the common horn coral, Heliophyllum. These are the most spectacular fossils of their type in the region in the external detail.

The quarry yielded good examples of four minerals: calcite, marcasite, pyrite, and sphalerite: Calcite was locally common. Sometimes crystals 2 to 3-inches (6 to 8 cm) were found. They were white, prismatic with a negative rhomb termination. Most of my visits I never found any but when it was present, it was in nice crystals.

Pyrite is the most abundant collectable mineral. Crystals are microscopic but were often in large iridescent microcrystals and mamillary masses spanning the rainbow from red to violet.

Sphalerite was uncommon but well crystallized. It occurred in clusters, rarely single or twinned crystals. Some crystals are greenish-yellow (low-iron) but most are covered by a thin layer of high-iron making them black. Backlit, this zoning can be seen.

Marcasite is the least common mineral. This iron sulfide resembles pyrite in color but the crystals are tabular. I’ve always found it to be in pockets separate from pyrite.

This page has photos of the quarry and some of the fossils and minerals we collected from 1986 – 2014.


2010 photo of the active pit at that time.
A view of the southern end of the quarry shortly before it closed. Note the water.
The Laurel Formation isn’t thick so the quarry isn’t deep. 2016 photo. This area was fossil and mineral poor.
Collecting in 2014.
A meeting of trucks in 2014.
West highwall in 2016, examining shot rock for fossils and minerals and finding little of either.
Plenty of boulders to look over in 2010. Pyrite and trilobites were the primary finds.
Terra rosa means Devonian fossils. Sometimes too many to carry!
Nice of them to clean an area so we could collect Devonian fossils!
An in situ fossil – the largest Heliophyllum ingens I ever found (2012) – now in my collection.
A more typical Heliophyllum ingens found by Kenny Popp.
The rarest fossil I found here – the blastoid Eleacrinus verneuili. It was sitting on top of a pile of red soil waiting to be found!
Not everything can be collected. This orthocone cephalopod was is a large boulder!
Pyrite in a boulder, photographed in 2012.
Iridescent pyrite in a boulder.
Pyrite in microcrystals
Boulder with weird hemispherical sphalerite crystals found in 2010. Featured in Mineral News that year.
Decent-sized cluster of sphalerite crystals
A boulder with a few whole calymenid trilobites.
A large tray of corals from one trip – dominated by Pleurodictyum and Favosites.
Pleurodictyum planum – a wonderfully symmetrical specimen. Scale = 2 cm
Pleurodictyum insigne – silicified, scale = 1 cm
Favosites (Emmonsia) eximia – Subgenus Emmonsia has squamulae inside the corallites.
Favosites placentus is a common coral with small polygonal corallites. Hollow specimens with loose quartz crystals are common – they rattle.
Alveolites goldfussi has curved corallites, very distinctive from other tabulates in this formation.
Breviphrentis is a common Beechwood Fm. horn coral.
A view of the septa in Breviphrentis, probably B. halli.