Like several works on fossils for early American children, “Fossil Tree in the Coal Rocks” describes the amazing fossils found in coal. The emphasis here is on “describe": unlike at least one piece published in Parley’s Magazine 13 years earlier, this piece doesn’t try to tell readers of Robert Merry’s Museum how the tree got into the rock or what its presence implied about the age of the Earth.
“Fossil Tree In the Coal Rocks” (from Robert Merry’s Museum, December 1852; p. 175)

A late number of the “Westmoreland Intelligencer” contains a description of a discovery, made in excavating for the Pennsylvania Railroad. A fossil tree, of immense magnitude, has been laid bare by Richard McGrand, jr., lying prostrate about four feet above the Pittsburgh seam of coal, imbedded in solid sandstone thirty feet below the surface. The part which was removed, measured twenty-six feet in length, and about two feet ten inches in circumference at the base. From the size of the main branches which enter the rock on the opposite side, it is inferred that this tree may have been from forty to fifty feet in length. At the base it was much flattened by the pressure of the superincumbent weight, but the branches still retain their original cylindrical form. It was entirely enveloped by a coating of pure and crystalized bituminous coal, measuring from a quarter to an inch in thickness.

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