Posts Tagged ‘Petrified Forest’

Jasper Forest, originally called First Forest as it was the first part of the park accessed from Adamana, a town the railroad tracks passed through, has a high concentration of wood. To prevent full-scale looting, the road that once ran here was closed, but you can now take a nice long walk among hundreds of piece of petrified wood, some full-length although in sections. Remember that I told you they fall apart in piece due to their weight? And as I’m sure you now know, the Jasper Forest isn’t made of jasper but of…what else? Petrified wood, which is actually a fossil.

The variety of minerals make beautiful colors. There are so many beauties here that I found I finally had to stop taking photos. Each one looked as good or better than the last, finally causing a feeling of burnout. I did continue to marvel at them, though.

Everywhere you look you see more petrified wood and who knows how much lie still covered?

Friday will be our last day in Petrified Forest. Not much walking but some lovely pieces of petrified wood. Still having fun?

Independence Rock in Wyoming along what might be considered the Route 66 of the day, the Oregon Trail, is a giant, mounded rock filled with names of those passing by in their covered wagons. Newspaper Rock might be considered the petroglyph version of Independence Rock. Thankfully for the preservation of the markings, the rocks are down below the lookout area and in a place where it would be difficult to go. It was far enough down that I went back to the van for my telephoto so I could get some decent photos.

Petroglyphs last longer than rock art paintings because there’s nothing to wear off. While there isn’t a story as such, there are spiritual meanings, family meanings, as well as calendar events, as interpreted by modern American Indian groups.

The archeological site known as Newspaper Rock is neither a newspaper nor a single rock. The site boasts over 650 petroglyphs covering a group of rockfaces within a small area. High concentrations of petroglyphs like this mark a place as hugely significant. Many generations of people saw these markings and contributed their own. The petroglyphs were created by ancestral Puebloan people living, farming, and hunting along the Puerco River between 650 and 2,000 years ago. Some of the ancient artists may have lived at Puerco Pueblo, located less than one mile north of this site. ~The NPS website

Next up on our route is one of the most historically popular attractions, Agate Bridge, which of course isn’t actually agate but petrified wood, now supported now by a concrete beam. It’s about 100′ in length, 4′ in diameter, and goes across about 40′ of the chasm. In the early days of the park, many people had their photos taken on the log and the railroad finally paid to have the first supports put in so that the log wouldn’t collapse.

Finally there were some bits of bright yellow to offset the cloudy day. This first plant is the perfect example of plants being able to grow almost anywhere, even when it seems there’s nothing to serve as a growing medium.

Tomorrow we’ll be wandering around Jasper Forest so bring sturdy shoes even though there won’t be the steep slopes there were earlier in the trip at Blue Mesa. And be ready to see a lot of Petrified Wood!

We’ve seen lots of interesting and beautiful sights so far but this is the Petrified Forest, so let’s get to the wood. Blue Mesa’s trail is only about a mile but it’s definitely not a horizontal one. Don’t get too close to the edge and yes, we are going down there. But look. Right in front of you is a petrified log.

Here’s another view from this point before we head down.

The way a tree becomes petrified is that the tree dies, then loses its branches and bark. It falls into the water where sediment begins to cover it. By this rapid burial, the bacteria and oxygen are sealed away so it doesn’t decay but groundwater full of minerals deposits those minerals as it works through the log. The log weathers out of the surrounding rocks where further erosion snaps the brittle fossil into sections. As you can see below, it often appears that some manic creature tossed logs everywhere. Look that big one perched atop the peak in front of you.

Looking a bit closer.

Just as there are Badlands in South Dakota, these are examples of badlands with their striations and color variations, variations due to minerals deposits. The blueish color that gives this area its name comes from bentonite clay.

Here are some colorful examples of petrified wood. No one broke or cut these but they’re both heavy and brittle so snapping is easy. Petrified wood is composed mainly of quartz. But, you may say, quartz is colorless. True, but trace amounts of other elements such as iron mean you’ll see a variety of colors. Manganese, copper, chromium, a/o combinations of them are present in the wood.

Petrified wood is found all over the world but the largest concentration is here in the park. You can buy petrified wood at various places around the park but all of it comes from private land. The petrified wood in the park is protected.

Have a drink of water, take another look around at where you’ve been, then into the van and off to our next stop. Sorry, no cake available but you can rejoice in the calories you burned off and didn’t replace. 🙂

for Jo’s Monday Walk 10.17.22

When most people hear/read the word “pueblo”, I’m sure they imagine the more famous pueblos of New Mexico. This pueblo is different, perfect for those with a fear of heights or who don’t care to climb ladders. 🙂 If this were built where we live now, it would be called a “multi-family building” AKA apartment building. From the park website:

A series of droughts in the 1200s, during the Pueblo IV period, led ancestral Puebloan people to move away from small, scattered hamlets and instead build large pueblo communities. The Village on the Rio Puerco (or Puerco Pueblo, for short) is a 100+ room pueblo site located near the Puerco River, a major drainage that bisects the park. The river would have been a reliable source of water for crops. Farming of corn, beans, and squash took place on the floodplains and terraces along the river. The river also made a natural travel corridor, meaning travelers and traders frequented Puerco Pueblo, carrying new ideas as well as goods.

To most pueblo people, a kiva was a large circular underground room used for religious/spiritual ceremonies and rites as well as for meetings.

Again from the website:

At its largest size, around 1300, Puerco Pueblo may have been home to about 200 people. The one-story high village of hand-shaped sandstone blocks was built around a rectangular plaza. The rooms were living quarters and storage, but most activity, like cooking and craftmaking, took place in the plaza. There were also several underground rooms, called kivas, where ceremonial practices took place. There were no doors or windows in the plaster-covered exterior walls of the pueblo. Entry into the village was by ladders over the wall and across the log, brush, and mud roofs of the room blocks.

Ok, they had ladders but nothing like the ones in the New Mexican pueblos or the cliff dwellings.

The sun at the summer solstice hit the marker for a short span of time. Marking the changing of the seasons was important as knowing when to plant and when the rains might come was vital to staying alive in the desert.

Finally we come to my husband’s favorite part: the petroglyphs. Think of petroglyphs as early precursors of scratch boarding, as the top layer of rock was scratched off to reveal the lighter rock beneath it.

Unable to adapt to the climate change of the late 1300s, the inhabitants of Puerco Pueblo systematically abandoned the pueblo in search of a more suitable area. It was all but empty by 1380. Only the sandstone bricks, potsherds, stone tools, petroglyphs, and other artifacts and features remain to tell the tale of these ancient people.

Where will we be next? I guess you’ll just have to come back and see, but be sure to wear your hiking books or good athletic shoes. It’s cool so you might get away without bringing water but be sure to have some in the car. We’ll be taking a break for Six-Word Saturday and One Word Sunday but then I’ll actually have a Monday walk for Jo, although she might be taking a break. We’ll find out.

We’re not leaving Petrified Forest just because it’s time for Thursday Doors. I found a few doors in the park despite most of the attractions being outdoor. Lots of doors open to the outside, but there are some very attractive ones inside as well as you can see from this cabinet door in the Painted Desert Inn.

This door, from the same place, is more functional but still attractive in its own way.

This of course is the inside of a door that opened to the outside at one time, the door to the 1932 Studebaker I talked about in yesterday’s post. I would imagine that if you saw the inside of a door on any of today’s models, they’d look quite different. But they might not hold up as well against the ravages of time in the desert.

As promised, tomorrow we’ll visit Puerco Pueblo. See you then.

Thanks to Dan for hosting Thursday Doors, taking over ably after creator Norm stepped aside. Thursdays just wouldn’t be the same without TD!

There are many amazing sights in Petrified Forest but I don’t imagine you were expecting this one!

This 1932 Studebaker sits where Route 66, dubbed by author John Steinbeck as “The Mother Road”, cut through Petrified Forest, giving it the distinction of the only National Park to still contain part of the iconic highway that ran from Chicago to Los Angeles. Bobby Troup and his wife Cynthia drove along US highways 40 and 66 but when he contemplated writing a song about US 40, his wife suggested he write instead about Rte 66 and also suggested what became the title of a song sung by a variety of well-known artists, “Get Your Kicks on Route 66”.

If you ever plan to motor west
Travel my way, take the highway that’s the best
Get your kicks on Route 66


It winds from Chicago to L.A
More than two thousand miles all the way
Get your kicks on Route 66


Now it goes through Saint Looey
Joplin, Missouri
Oklahoma City looks mighty pretty
You’ll see Amarillo
Gallup, New Mexico
Flagstaff, Arizona
Don’t forget Winona
Kingman, Barstow, San Bernardino


Won’t you get hip to this timely tip
When you make, when you make, make that California trip?
Get your kicks on Route 66
Get your kicks on Route 66
Get your kicks on Route 66

I’m not sure this driver got his/her kicks here, unless kicking the car in frustration, but it makes a great thing to see as we travel from the Painted Desert Inn and views of the Painted Desert, to the rest of the park. Route 66 no longer exists as an actual highway, although there are sections of it scattered throughout the west and Interstate 40 runs in some of the same spots. But Route 66 still conjures wide open roads and the romance of travel.

I’m guessing there weren’t a lot of creature comforts in this baby and certainly no air conditioning, GPS, cruise control, and the like. If you’d like to take a look at what one looked like before sitting in the desert for years, click here. It was a rather classy ride!

I did have a moment or two of “Mad Max” thoughts as I circles the car taking photos and I’m grateful for the clouds adding atmosphere. Of course as they’re in the atmosphere, perhaps they can’t help themselves.

In the first two years we moved here, 2020 and 2021, the monsoon season that’s supposed to bring most of our yearly rain didn’t. Thankfully we’ve had quite a lot of rain this year, extending even past the usual end of the season. Although over-grazing took its toll on the West in general, the park lands haven’t been grazed for decades and with the rain, that meant a lot of green to be seen, although you mustn’t imagine the green grass of the Midwest. This is after all a desert. But as you can see, the rain brought its share of beauty to the park in the form of flowers and vegetation.

Ok, you haven’t had the promised hikes yet but tomorrow we’ll start out easy by taking a stroll around Puerco Pueblo, although it might not be exactly what you expect. Be sure to bring along water. Whoops! I lied. Tomorrow is Thursday, so we’ll take a look at some doors while still staying in the park. We’ll walk on Friday so you have an extra day to get in shape. 🙂

The Painted Desert is a vast area in northern Arizona. Tucked within Painted Desert is the Petrified Forest, our destination. Fortified us with the sake samples from Arizona Sake, we drove to the park, ready to enjoy the weather, the landscapes, and the history of the park. The clouds added to the drama of the already scenic view.

Our first stop was the Painted Desert Inn. I do love the pueblo style of buildings, even though this building didn’t start out as an adobe building but was built of petrified wood! I’ll let the National Park Service website tell you more about it but feel free to just look at the photos, although the history is worth the read.

Stone Tree House
Built of petrified wood and other native stone, the Painted Desert Inn was the vision of Herbert David Lore. While his family remembers the finished building prior to 1920, Lore registered the inn with the land office in 1924, fulfilling his responsibilities under the Homesteading Act.

For almost twelve years, Lore operated the “Stone Tree House” as a tourist attraction. Visitors could eat meals in the lunchroom, purchase American Indian arts and crafts, and enjoy a cool drink in the downstairs taproom. Six small rooms—cubicles really—were available for two to four dollars per night. Lore also gave two-hour motor car tours through the Black Forest in the Painted Desert below the inn.

The Stone Tree House was an oasis in the Painted Desert, and quite isolated. A shop containing a lighting-plant supplied electricity, as the inn was not connected to electrical lines. Water was hauled from Adamana, ten miles south on the Puerco River.

Unfortunately, Lore had built his inn on a seam of bentonite clay. As the clay swells and shrinks in response to changes in moisture, the foundation of the inn shifts. Early on, the Painted Desert Inn began to show cracks in the walls and water damage.

CCC
In the early 1930s, Lore had expressed an interest in selling or exchanging his property “in order that it could be preserved and protected.” He was probably also concerned about the integrity of the building. Petrified Forest National Monument purchased the Painted Desert Inn and four sections of land—four square miles—for $59,400 in 1936.

In the early 1900s, National Park Service Rustic style architecture—nicknamed Parkitecture—arose in the National Park System. This style reflected its connection with the Arts and Crafts movement through buildings that harmonized with their natural environment and regional culture. In the Southwest, Pueblo Revival Style epitomizes this movement, drawing from the Puebloan and Spanish Colonial cultures.

Pueblo Revival Style features stuccoed masonry, thick walls, earth tones, flat roofs, and projecting roof beams (vigas). Due to the structural problems of the inn and popularity of Pueblo Revival Style in the 1930s, the Painted Desert Inn was redesigned. Well-known for the Southwestern influence of his designs, National Park Service architect Lyle Bennett created a new look for the inn.

Bennett first started as a ranger in 1927, but moved on to use his degree in fine art to become one of the best and most sought-after architects in the National Park Service. He was considered a master of the Pueblo Revival Style. More of his work can be seen at White Sands and Bandelier National Monuments and Mesa Verde National Park. The workers that made his plans a reality were the men of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC).

In the 1930s, men were finding relief from the Depression through the CCC. They built roads, buildings, trails and bridges in many national parks and other federal and state areas, including Petrified Forest National Monument. Throughout the country, the men of the CCC have left their mark on many historic structures.

The CCC used ponderosa pine and aspen poles cut from nearby Arizona forests for roofing beams and smaller crossbeams (savinos). Light fixtures were hand-made from punched tin, and wooden tables and chairs were given American Indian designs. The beautiful skylight panels were hand-painted by the CCC workers, designs of prehistoric pottery. Concrete floors were etched and painted with patterns based on Navajo blanket designs.

Open for Business
The fine work of the CCC gave the Painted Desert Inn new life. The inn reopened for business of July 4, 1940, under the management of Edward McGrath for Standard Concessions. The Painted Desert Inn supplied Route 66 travelers with meals, souvenirs, and lodging. It was popular with local residents as a place for meetings and special events.

The good times ended with the beginning of the United States’ involvement in World War II. The CCC was disbanded as most of the young men went to war. Travel was curtailed by wartime rationing. The inn closed in October 1942, reopening five years later under new management.

The Fred Harvey Company
The Painted Desert Inn reopened in the late 1940s under the renowned Fred Harvey Company, a business with important ties to Southwest, railroad, and tourism history. Fred Harvey started his company as a partnership with the Santa Fe Railroad in 1876. His facilities for travelers were well known for comfort and quality. The company’s architect and interior designer, Mary Elizabeth Jane Colter, arrived in December of 1947. She was already noted for her innovative Southwestern concepts when she came to the Painted Desert Inn. Along with renovations and repair, Colter created a new color scheme. She ordered new plate glass windows placed in strategic walls of the Inn to take advantage of the magnificent view.

Fred Kabotie, a renowned Hopi artist, was hired to paint murals on the dining room and lunchroom walls. The scenes are glimpses into Hopi culture: the Buffalo Dance, a trek to a sacred salt lake, planting time, and Tawa—the Hopi sun god. The sun face was also the logo of the Fred Harvey Company. Kabotie had previously worked for the company at the Grand Canyon and other locations.

Colter was not the only woman that made history with the Fred Harvey Company. Frustrated by rowdy male employees, the Fred Harvey Company recruited women from towns and cities in the East and Midwest to serve customers. These young ladies had to be of good moral character, have at least an eighth grade education, display good manners and be neat and articulate. Their contract stipulated that they could not marry and must abide by all company rules during the term of employment. If hired, the women were given a rail pass to get to their place of employment, a smart uniform, good wages, and room and board. Since their beginning in the 1880s, the Harvey Girls have become American legends. The Harvey Girls of the Painted Desert Inn, from the late 1940s and through the 1950s, still have local ties.

These lamp shade were made by hand by the CCC.

Preserving Our Legacy
Thanks to the concern and support of the public, Painted Desert Inn remains a testament to the historic legacy of Petrified Forest National Park. Although its history is intriguing, the building is difficult to maintain. Cracks form in many of the walls. Window and door frames swell and skew. Water damage and cracks threaten the beautiful Kabotie murals. The seam of bentonite clay beneath the foundation of the inn continues to cause structural problems.

Severe structural damage to the inn forced the Fred Harvey Company to move to the newly completed visitor center complex in 1963. The inn’s doors closed while debate over demolition versus preservation went on for many years. The park set aside funds and scheduled demolition of the building for 1975. Due to a public campaign to save the Painted Desert Inn, the building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976, and reopened on a limited basis as the Bicentennial Travel Center. Because of its fine examples of Pueblo Revival Style design by Bennett, historic work by the CCC, touches by Mary Colter, and Kabotie’s murals, the Painted Desert Inn became a National Historic Landmark in 1987.

During the most recent work between 2004 and 2006, “modernizing” some of the structural elements in the building will help postpone damage—thirteen “floating” roofs, joint-less pipes in the walls, and re-laid flagstones to help with drainage. Even while bringing the structure into the present, the park is trying to maintain the historical integrity of the building and attempting to present the inn as it was in its heyday during the late 1940s into the 1950s. These rehabilitation projects have continued to preserve the inn for future generations to enjoy, thanks to generous public support.

The inn continues to inspire and charm visitors. It is opened year round with shorter hours than the rest of the park. During the summer there is an ice cream parlor downstairs harking back to its past service
.

Unfortunately, they weren’t serving any ice cream. 😦

I wish I could have seen the house when it was made of petrified wood, but it’s beautiful as is and I love the history of it. Tomorrow we’re out and about with a surprise along the way. See you then and be ready to do some walking.

As I leave the Phoenix area, the sun comes up behind the mountains, making them look black and one-dimensional.  Driving a new car makes life interesting as I don’t know automatically where all the controls are.  (more…)