“Petrified Forests” (from Juvenile Rambler, May 16, 1832; pp. 74-75)
We love to make our readers acquainted from time to time, with some of the curious and wonderful things of the world in which we live; not only because they are calculated to entertain and please them, but because we hope they will have a tendency to lead them to think of the great Being who made the world, and made them, and contrived all things with a view to make them wise, and good, and happy.
Most of them have probably heard that wood is sometimes changed into stone. This most commonly happens when it has lain a long time under water, or in a mixture of water and gravel, or other earth. In some of the Western and Southern United States, these things often occur, as well as in other countries. When wood is thus changed it is said to be petrified, and the things themselves are called petrifactions. From the Edinburgh New Philosophical Journal, we have derived the following account of a petrified forest near Rome.
A physician, who was lately travelling in Italy, found, near the city of Rome, a fossil of petrified under-ground forest. The trees lay sloping in the ground, as if partly fallen down, with some of their branches broken off, and others still remaining attached. Some of the leaves of the trees were also found petrified among the rest, and the whole intermingled with volcanic sand and gravel, and covered with earth and rock. Many of the limbs of the trees appeared much like dross; still, however, retaining more or less of the appearance of wood. These trees, intermixed with other substances as already described, form a petrified ridge of several miles in extent, broken only in two places. This ridge is generally about forty feet wide, and eighteen or twenty high. In some places there are small branches or forks running off from the main ridge. In one place, it crosses over the river Tiber. Near this river at one point of the ridge, there is found a spring whose waters have a sour taste, and are said to be useful in diseases. The substances which are petrified have generally a brownish appearance; and appear to consist of a kind of lime, and are easily broken and pulverized. What could have caused this strange phenomenon? Fire appears to have had some agency, and yet it is difficult to
conceive how it could have produced such singular effects.
The ‘Friend’ of Philadelphia, has copied from the Illinois Magazine an account of a ‘petrified forest,’ on the west bank of the Missouri river, a little below its junction with the Yellow Stone, and about 450 miles west of the western extremity of Lake Superior. The facts were originally communicated by Mr Crossman, of the U. States army, and are in substance the following.
The petrified remains of trees are found in greater or less abundance, for a distance of twenty or thirty miles, on an open, high, and dry prairie, which is broken into deep ravines and hollows. On the sides and summits of some of the hills, the face of the earth is literally covered with stumps, roots, and limbs of petrified trees, presenting the appearance of a petrified, thick forest, broken and thrown down by some violent convulsion of nature, and scattered in all directions.
Some of the trees appear to have broken off, in falling, near to their roots; while others stand at an elevation of some feet above the surface. Many of the stumps are of a large size; and one was found which measured upwards of fifteen feet in circumference.