Sorting through the rock piles is a great way to recall some exciting trips and the astounding finds of a fledgling rock hound. A large bag of stones came to the surface, the label read: Blue Forest P-wood – ‘Best’. Opening the bag took me back to the high desert of Wyoming two years earlier. Our leader, ‘Red’ Jioras of Eureka has collected in the high desert of southern Wyoming for thirty years. I had picked up a map of the Blue Forest at the BLM field office in Rock Springs. There are few trees in the Blue Forest, other than sage brush, the tallest thing was an old, rattle trap, RV parked on one of the many dirt roads in the area. Red told us to walk along dragging a shovel, when you felt a ‘clink’ do a bit of digging. I walked less than fifty yards from the truck and got a ‘clink’. Now I love a lush garden and a well-cared for lawn, but I hate yard work. I started digging, not a difficult task in the sandy soil of the high desert. In an hour I had a hole about four feet deep, which was made all the more difficult by these huge, hard chunks of clunky rock.
In the second hour of digging Red came by to see what I was up to. He looked at the pile of ‘chunks’ and asked, “Bill did you open any of those?” What? Red helped me climb out of my hole and showed me how to crack open the pesky ‘rocks’ technically they are rocks. The rough outside layer is a ‘matrix’ of what was once algae. Red explained that when the tree fell, it was a swampy area with lots of slime. The algae grew all over the host wood and in a sense protected it from rotting away in a few years like most tree debris. Over a few million years as the algae hardened, tiny bits of silica seeped into the void left by the organic material. Eventually the wood was fully replaced by the sandy silica, thus it became Petrified Wood encased in a blanket of Petrified Algae. Once opened the real wood was revealed. “P-wood” is colored by the surrounding minerals which come in a host of colors. The silica in the Blue Forest imparts a striking blue color. I hopped back in my hole with a new purpose. By late afternoon and four hours of digging, I had a hole deep enough to cover me up and dead tired, I was ready for a face plant on the ground. I had sorted out the ‘matrix’ from the blue wood and further sorted it into good and best piles. I put them in plastic sand bags and labeled them with a felt-tip marker.
Two years later I opened the bag of ‘best’ and rediscovered my treasures, I would go back in an instant. Take a look at some incredible pictures of this beauty. Do a Google search of, Blue Forest Petrified Wood of Wyoming. If your interest is game, search Rainbow Petrified Wood of Wyoming and another stunning group of ‘Wood’ is revealed. You Tube searches of the same names will take you to films of the Blue Forest. Search P-wood of New Mexico, Arizona and Nevada to look for the treasures that we drive by on our way to somewhere else.