Fossilized Wood Hunt
Johnson's Rock Shop
Jasper & Indian Springs, Texas
February 2007
Report by Denise Bicknell
Late Saturday night I talked Tim into driving over to Jasper, Texas to go for a fossilized palm wood hunt with friends Buny, visiting from Nebraska, and Rob, who lives in East Texas. The plan was to meet at Rob’s the next morning. I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to do much hunting or digging because of a hand injury but Rob assured me it would be an easy hunt so we agreed to go.

The day started out chilly but soon warmed up and was perfect for an outing. It didn’t take me long to load our tools into the truck and fill the thermos with coffee for Tim and we were off. The day was bight and sunny after days of overcast cool, wet weather and I was really enjoying the drive and sunshine. That is until I came upon a brand new red corvette that was being driven slowly over the two lane hilly road. Sheesh, why on earth would you own a corvette and drive it 15 MPH below the speed limit? What a shame. I finally found a spot to pass and we were once again on our merry way at the posted speed.

We pulled up at Rob’s to find him sitting outside knapping a point. He put away his work and introductions were made. We sat around the kitchen table looking at old Rockhound magazines from the 1970s that Buny had brought with her and laughed at the rocktoons while Tim and Rob were telling Navy stories and getting acquainted with each other.

After a bit, someone stood up and we wandered outside and donned our “mucky” boots and grabbed our tools. We were just going across the road to check out a large field that had recently been worked. The day before Buny had found a very nice hunk of opalized palm wood root and Rob was anxious to find the rest of it. The first steps onto the field revealed small pieces of fossil wood. Aha! This is going to be good. I turned over a few pieces to see if they were worth picking up. Not seeing anything that I wanted, I moved further into the field. It wasn’t long before Tim came over to us with a small piece of palmwood.

Tim's Palmwood

He had hit the field and immediately headed off on his own on the look-out for “the big one.” I found a few small pieces with interesting character that made their way into my bucket but nothing that was really exciting.

some of the fossil wood we collected

close up of wood structure and drusy quartz

another drusy quartz

As we moved further into the field Rob and I came upon an area that was obviously an old dump. I found several small bottles that looked interesting and put them into the bucket with the fossil wood. I had started out on a rock hunt and ended up dump diving I thought chuckling to my self! One bottle in particular has me a bit stumped. It is a six- ounce bottle with a rolled lip and has the words “Dr Pepper” molded into the glass.

Dr Pepper bottle I found

I do not know when it was made or what it held. A friend suggested that it might have held a powder that could be made into a drink. If you know about the bottle, please let me know. Rob found some nice smoky glass that he could use to knapp.

Fossil wood was nowhere to be found in this section of the field so we headed back toward the road where we first started. Tim came over carrying a hunk of fossil palm root and asked me if it was any good. Yeah, right Tim. Like I told Buny, he always finds the biggest and best. Leave it to the reluctant rockhound. Oh well, it eventually becomes mine so I don’t mind!

I saw a large hunk of wood sitting in a drainage area. I tried to get it out from one side and sank into the mud to my boot tops. I had to find a way around to the other side of the drainage and roll it out with my shovel. It was too heavy for me to pick up with this bum hand so I got Tim to get it for me.

Large hunk I dug out of the drainage

By this time I was getting thirsty and headed for the truck. Tim, Rob and Buny were not far behind.

I asked Rob if he had been to Johnson’s Rock Shop in Indian Springs. I thought it might be fun to take Buny there to see the Johnson’s unique shop and all their fossil wood. Since it’s an hour drive toward home we took two vehicles so that we could head home from there.

Rob and Buny at Johnson's Rockshop

The Johnson’s shop is composed of a collection of unique little shed-like buildings that the Johnsons had built themselves. Each building holds its own collection. There is one with agates, one with palm wood, one with minerals and amethyst cathedrals. One is the silver smithing shop, one the tumbling shop, one holds tools for sale, another one holds their tools, and still another holds their books. The main building houses jewelry. My favorite part of the shop is the Johnson’s Museum. It houses exceptional pieces of fossil wood and other specimens the Johnsons have accumulated over the 40-plus years they have been in the business.





The driveways and walkways around the shop are lined with piles and piles of fossil wood, upright fossil stumps, and large fossilized tree trunks.



Mr. Johnson told me that it took a logging truck to get some of them to the shop. These are impressive fossils and always get OOs and Ahhs!

Under a lean-to are bins of rough that caught Buny’s eye. She picked up some llanite, red jasper, palm wood, and other nice pieces to take home with her. Rob also picked up a nice piece of material to knapp.

It was a pleasant day and fun to spend time with others with the same interests.