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Limestone Legacy -- Iowa's Amateur Paleontologist

page 8



Burnice H. Beane: In 1874, a small "nest" of crinoid fossils was uncovered in the Le Grand Quarry. They were so well preserved that scientists from Iowa, Illinois, New Mexico, Indiana, and Massachusetts visited the site and with the cooperation of the quarry owner they excavated the fossils over a sixteen year period. Charles Wachsmuth and Frank Springer were two of the scientists that visited the site They patiently answered the questions of a young farm boy,  and inspired him with their enthusiasm

Burnice Hartley Beane grew up on a farm at the edge of the Le Grand quarry. In the quiet times, between chores and schoolwork, he found time for his hobby -- collecting insects, bird eggs, rocks, and finally fossils. 

Beane helped his mother manage the family farm while his father toured the Midwest as an evangelist Quaker minister. They sold their cash crops of strawberries, watermelon and potatoes in Marshalltown and other nearby towns.

Beane to attended Penn College in Oskaloosa for a short time and then returned to the family farm near the edge of the quarry. Here he raised his family and continued his interest in the fossils of Le Grand.

As an enthusiastic youth, Burnice Beane saved the crinoids of Le Grand from the rock crusher because of his interest in fossils near his home. He added to his growing collection, kept records of his finds and studied the crinoid for over fifty years. Although a farmer by trade many recognized him as an on the fossils of the Le Grand area. Today many other amateurs are following Mr. Beane’s example and responcibly collect fossils for the enjoyment and future research.

Le Grand Quarry: In 1909 the ownership of the Le Grand quarry passed to the Chicago and Northwestern Railroad.  The quarry produced Crushed stone for road and railway ballast, agricultural lime and building stone for the Old Iowa State Historical Building originated from the quarry. The quarry's most significant product however, is the small flower-like animals, crinoids, that are preserved in the rock.

The worlds largest rock crusher awaits the limestone from the Le Grand Quarry Company near the Beane farm. ca. 1900


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