Northeastern Section - 40th Annual Meeting (March 14–16, 2005)

Paper No. 4
Presentation Time: 9:20 AM


LINDEMANN, Richard H., Department of Geosciences, Skidmore College, 815 North Broadway, Saratoga Springs, NY 12866 and YOCHELSON, Ellis L., Department of Paleobiology, National Museum of Nat History, Washington, DC 20013-7012,

C. D. Walcott began his first job as a paleontologist early in November 1876 as a "special assistant" to James Hall, Director of the New York State Museum. Hall regarded the self educated Walcott to be worthy of employment and special status because of his extensive experience at collecting Trenton age fossils in central New York and his recent discovery of the legs and gills of trilobites. In June 1877, Hall sent his secretary Jake Vanderloo and Walcott to Saratoga Springs for five days of collecting from Ordovician limestones and shales in proximity to the village. Up the road from quarries in the Trenton limestone, Walcott "found a few fossils" at a quarry in what is now the Upper Cambrian Hoyt Limestone at Lester Park. This may have been the first time that he collected trilobites from Cambrian strata; it would certainly not be the last. Intrigued by the trilobites he'd found in 1877, Walcott returned to Saratoga alone in July of 1878 where he devoted a week's vacation time to developing a collection of Hoyt fossils from the previous locality as well as others nearby. He drafted a manuscript describing five new species in his collection but Hall accused him of disloyalty and did not renew his contract. Walcott's description of his Hoyt material, which includes some of the first descriptions of Upper Cambrian trilobites from eastern North America, was published during January 1879. Walcott remained unemployed in Albany until July of 1879 at which time he joined the newly formed United States Geological Survey.