Sands of Time

photo of layers of limestone and sandstone

Sands of Time

What primordial wash left these deposits of colored sand between layers of limestone? How many times did the landscape change to create these layers? How much time does this represent?

This highwall is a man-made cut along the Panhandle Trail in Collier Twp., PA, a former rail line from Pittsburgh to Weirton, WV and connecting to points north and west. A section at the trail head runs through the McShane Quarry of Collier Stone, providing Collier Gray limestone and other products around southwestern Pennsylvania.

The portion of the quarry around the trail is no longer mined, but several quarry ponds still provide interest and habitat, and in the woods huge quarried and natural boulders left behind are covered with lichen and moss. And like most limestone and sandstone formations, there’s a natural cave to explore. Farther along the trail is another limestone feature, the Fossil Cliffs where millennia of flora and fauna remain in this ghostly form.

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