We've been on walks in the woods, but this is a different kind of woods. This one has to the oldest forest in the state. Over 36 million years old. It's the Mississippi Petrified Forest at Flora which preserves one of the state's unique landscapes.
If you don't have a hunk of petrified wood lying around your house somewhere, it's just because you don't want one. Petrified wood is Mississippi's state stone. It's pretty common in our creeks and streams. But nowhere else in the state will you find it in the size and abundance that you will in Flora.
Bob Dellar with the forest tells us how they were made.
"Well the best scientific evidence indicates that these petrified logs are about 36 million years old. And they believe they were washed in here in the flood waters of an ancient river. These trees were originally growing on the slopes of the Appalachian Mountains. They were deposited in a sand bar and buried, and that's what was the first step in the process of petrifying or becoming fossilized. And over the course of millions of years, they remained buried and the processes of erosion gradually exposed them and now they are here where they can be seen. And we've been designated a National Natural Landmark by the Department of Interior, National Park Service. We are a privately owned facility. But they have given us that designation because we have exceptional value in illustrating some of the natural history of North America."
I'm here today on an outing with my granddaughter Emily who has suddenly developed an interest in geology. And looking for fossils in the rocks in my driveway has just about run its course. But the Petrified Forest was amazing to her. Especially one of the side attractions, the gem fluming where you can buy a bag of material and sift through it in the flume water and see what stones you can find.
And the museum is quite a treat with fossils and minerals and odd rocks from all over the world. Emily has a keen interest in geodes and amethysts. So here's the mother-load for her, about a 12-foot South American volcanic amethyst geode on display.
Now, I don't know what the outing did for Emily. But every time I see the rocks at the Petrified Forest and the fossils, I come away amazed at the wondrous planet we live on. And I am always pleased when my child-like curiosity gets sparked again.
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