In the 1930s, in the depths of the Great Depression, the Works Progress Administration sent crews to Theodore Roosevelt National Park, the Little Missouri National Grasslands portion, and set them to work building infrastructure. By the side of the North Dakota highway, there is a turnout with a viewpoint, and a low wall demarcating the limits of the turnout area. The wall is roughly built, with a poor grade of cement containing many pieces of obvious local stone.
You can see that the cement holding the stones together has not weathered the years well.
Now, while looking at this wall, I noticed some components that might be very valuable, just incorporated into this wall in a random manner. I focused on one particular piece of material in the wall.
Upon closer inspection, this looked to me like a large piece of petrified wood. In the Eastern part of Washington State, we have a Ginkgo Petrified Forest State Park, where many old trees have been preserved, their woody portions replaced by stone. In my experience, petrified wood is very rare, and valuable. I looked closer at another of the stones in the wall.
Isn’t it remarkable, that you can see the wood-grain, and in the top photo you can tell where the branches of the tree grew out of the trunk? It seems to me that those wall-builders didn’t know what they had, and simply built big chunks of petrified wood into their quite ordinary stone wall on a highway turnout. I wonder if other tourists who stop at this highway turnout bother to look closely at the simple wall built from local stone? I wonder if the National Park Service, who is now responsible for the maintenance of the park, even knows today what they have?