Though park staff now downplays rumors of the curse, they’ve struggled with the best way to deter theft in the first place. It was returned by a man who said he had stolen it 66 years ago. That is, if you believe in entropy. Photo by Ryan Thompson. Your email (will not be published) (required), Letters of the Damned: Exorcising the Curse of the Petrified Forest. 1 year ago. A piece of rock from the conscience pile. The pieces of petrified wood have been confiscated or returned by visitors. Plus, it’s really, really funny. Comprising some 1,200 pages of guilt-ridden letters, the oldest “conscience letter” dates back to 1935. Escalante Petrified Forest State Park in Garfield County is one of those places. It has been that way for centuries since the first explorers came through the area, the first routes were blazed through the region in the mid-1800s, and up until today. Weird Arizona. Like the curse of the Hope Diamond or the allegedly ruined lives of those who have tampered with Egyptian Pharaohs, bad luck comes to those who possess stolen petrified wood from the park, prompting thousands to send it back. In fact, I’m still giggling as I type this. Photo by Ryan Thompson. For decades, Petrified Forest has received pilfered samples in the mail, returned by visitors who regret having stolen them. Those who have stolen rocks as souvenirs from Arizona’s Petrified Forest National Park are apparently the victims of a curse. Rock for rock, down to things that are the size of your fist.”. 12. To the National Parks Service: In fact, there is a room dedicated to these hundreds of cursed thieves in the Rainbow Forest Museum at Petrified Forest National Park. During heavy rains, the waterways would flood, sweeping fallen trees into the sandy floodplains. At that time, the region was a tropical wetland with abundant streams and rivers. “Since that time, though, nothing in my life has gone right.”, Petrified logs at the Petrified Forest, Arizona, Another pleaded, “My life has been totally destroyed since we’ve been back from vacation. “They’ve been working over the past decade to pivot toward telling a more rich and complete story of that place,” Thompson says. Petrified Forest National Park protects less than 20% of the petrified wood in northeastern Arizona. “But they’ve also moved away from that,” Thompson says. Instead, mailed fragments of petrified wood become part of the “conscience pile” near a private service road that visitors do not have access to. Petrified wood that has been mineralized into rocks for millions of years is the main attraction, bringing in visitors from all around the world. “Of course, the park wasn’t necessarily saying this is true, or that there’s some kind of curse, but inadvertently by showing these letters, they were reinforcing this belief.”, Eventually, Thompson points out, letter-writers began mentioning earlier correspondence they had seen when visiting the Petrified Forest. Notes included with the fragments describe lives wrought with misfortune since the rocks’ theft. The Petrified Forest National Park in Northeast Arizona protects one of the largest deposits of petrified wood in the world. These and other letters, and photos of some of the stolen rocks, are contained on Bad Luck, Hot Rocks, a website maintained by Ryan Thompson and Phil Orr. “When I was there in 2014 or ’15, they did give out a flier that said you could be fined some amount of money if you’re caught taking a rock out of the park.”. For decades, the Petrified Forest has received pilfered samples in the mail, returned by visitors who regret having stolen them. In the 1930s, visitors to the Petrified Forest began to report that after taking a piece of petrified wood from the park, they were seemingly cursed with bad luck. Let me start over again. Versand Trees are transitioned to stone by the process of permineralization, a process of fossilization in which the organic materials are replaced with minerals, such as quartz, making a “cast” of the original organism. The Petrified Forest area was designated a National Monument on December 8, 1906. Thank you for a most interesting article. Asking for a friend. Many letters describe rocks supposedly taken by family or friends, yet the stones included are either completely foreign to the area or they’ve been cut and polished, meaning they were clearly purchased at a gift shop somewhere. Visitors to the Petrified Forest National Park near Holbrook are warned that picking up petrified wood is not only illegal, it can also be costly. My girlfriend of three years finished with me on the drive home. The porous wood slowly absorbed various minerals, including silica from volcanic ash, which crystallized over thousands of years, replacing the organic material as it broke down. “Because of their unknown provenance,” Thompson writes in his book, “these specimens can not be scattered back in the park; to do so would be to spoil those sites for research purposes.”. © Kathy Weiser/Legends of America, updated February 2019. Even rocks returned with specific location descriptions cannot be put back without potentially disrupting the park’s geologic history. But, does that stop people from removing a piece of history from the park? #bad luck hot rocks #the ice plant #publishing #petrified forest #national park #department of natural history #conscience letters #archives #letter writing. The Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona houses a 1200+ page archive of regret. The absence of conscience letters in the museum doesn’t mean the bad-luck rumors have ceased. Today, the park is pushing ahead with plans for wayside signage that will show photographic comparisons of rock formations from a century ago with contemporary views to show visitors how similar they appear. Bad luck, hot rocks : conscience letters and photographs from the Petrified Forest . Writers who describe their troubled lives often hope that by returning the stolen goods, their bad luck will disappear as well. Many believe the wood is cursed and is to blame for their bad luck. Whether the curse is real or not is the stuff that creates legends. lol Sounds like a gimmick to stop people from taking the rocks. In the Rainbow Forest Museum, the display is called “Mystery of the Conscience Wood.” A large piece of petrified wood sits on a bench. #bad luck hot rocks #petrified forest #national park #petrified wood #letters. Documenting the conscience letters written by those returning stolen rocks to Arizona's Petrified Forest National Park, 'Bad Luck, Hot Rocks' offers a uniquely touching insight into human nature and our relationship with the planet.--Emma Elizabeth Davidson "Dazed " Review. Although previous park staff sometimes responded to letters and returned rocks to where a visitor described finding them, that practice ended decades ago. No! He just opened for Boise delivery. Required fields are marked *. Stopped by this awesome National (Heritage) Park, I was questioned if I was carrying any rocks, I had a ‘chock rock’ for my trailer, they gave me a post-it to assure on my exit it was not stolen. Unfair! “I saw the letters, but I didn’t believe it and I took the rocks anyway. plates. At the time, the Rainbow Forest Museum included a small exhibit of correspondence sent to the park by people who’d surreptitiously taken petrified wood during their visit, and later felt guilty enough to return it. But I have lots of family and I wouldn’t want anything to happen to them… but it sounds like an adventure! ), When I was a child we visited Petrified Forest, this was early 70s or late 60s. Former visitors to the Escalante Petrified Forest State Park sent chunks of petrified wood back to the park, apologizing for having taken it years ago. P.S. Unfortunately for folks who think they’re doing the right thing by mailing in rocks, these specimens won’t ever return to the Petrified Forest’s natural landscape. Thank you. Peace. The park estimates it loses about 12 tons of petrified wood a year to theft. When visiting, the Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona, folks are enamored by the beauty and uniqueness of the petrified wood. By edited by Ryan Thompson and Phil Orr. As a result, the National Park Service receives many of these returned rocks with … The book Bad Luck, Hot Rock s supports this. I immediately told my mom & dad who phoned the rangers on their car phone.