Cape Sable in 19th century science

Cape Sable figured in an early study to correlate certain geological formations in America with those in Europe. John Finch described the geological formations in detail in an 1824 paper [1], and is given credit for this first attempt. [2, 3] John Finch later sold his fossil collection to the British Museum. [5]

The mineralogist Gerard Troost found amber at Cape Sable and wrote about it in 1821, in apparently the first publication of amber's presence in America. [6, 7]

Cape Sable appeared again in an 1896 research article about coal containing amber. [8, 9]

Cape Sable is on the north shore of the Magothy River, off Mountain Road between Lake Shore Drive and Eagle Hill Road, or between Swan Cove and Blackhole Creek, at coordinates 39.0798, -76.5033 .


1. John Finch, "Geological essay on the Tertiary formations in America", American Journal of Science, I, 7: 31-43, 1824.

2. Timothy Abbott Conrad, "Republication of Conrad's Fossil Shells of the Tertiary Formations of North America", by Gilbert Dennison Harris, 1893, [ ]. See the "Geographical distribution" paragraph on page 28 for discussion about John Finch.

3. "Maryland Geological Survey: Upper Cretaceous", Johns Hopkins Press, 1916, [ ]. See page 34 for discussion about John Finch.

4. "A Century of Science in America, with special reference to the American Journal of Science 1818-1918", Edward Salisbury Dana et al., Yale University Press, 1918, [ ]. See page 77 for mention of John Finch, and page 151 for a citation to his paper.

5. "The History of the Collections Contained in the Natural History Departments of the British Museum", volume 1, 1904, [ ]. See page 289 in the Geology section for a description of John Finch and his fossils.

6. "Gems and precious stones of North America", by George Frederick Kunz, The Scietific Publishing Company, 1890, original page 199, digital page 220, [ ].

7. Gerard Troost (1776-1850), The Mineralogical Record Biological Archive, [ ].

8. F.H. Knowlton, "American amber-producing trees", Science, 17 April 1896, Vol. 3 no. 68 pp. 582-584, DOI: 10.1126/science.3.68.582 , [ ].

9. "Contributions to the Mesozoic Flora of the Atlantic Coastal Plain, X.-Maryland", in Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club, Vol. 41, No. 5, May 1914, [ ]. See page 295 for mention of F.H. Knowlton's paper.