Reub's journey

01 October 2014

Fossil



You could visit Wheeler county in central Oregon for the sheer beauty of its wide, lonely landscape.


There are towering rock formations,


and sculptures as impressive as any artist could dream up.



But aside from the spectacle of the place, there's another reason to slow down and spend some time there.



Embedded in those rocks are millions of fossils. Weather and erosion cause them to appear magically, as if you were looking at old photographic film being developed in a darkroom.



It's high and dry now, but plants and animals were captured by violent, muddy ash-flows back in the day when the area was a semi-tropical landscape.


Now they come slowly but continuously to the surface.




You can collect leaf and invertebrate fossils for non-commercial use on most public lands and all road cuts, but there is only one specific public fossil-hunting bed, and that is located behind Wheeler High School in (where else) Fossil, OR. For a 5 buck donation to the school you can borrow some gear and climb around in the loose, sharp rocks above the football field.



 It's just like hunting for treasure.



Metasequoia sp, now extinct: my very own astonishing little post card from 33 million years ago.



32 comments:

  1. wow. SO very cool!! and incredibly beautiful.

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    1. Are there fossils in TX? Must be.

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  2. Oh that is cool! I've never been to Fossil, but now I see it's got to go on my "must visit" list!

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    1. You should go! These pics were taken at the Clarno unit of the John Day Fossil beds and at Blue Basin, where we did the shorter of the 2 hikes. Next time...the longer one.

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  3. I have a lovely fossil that I found when walking in the forest here in CO. It's fernlike and like yours, it's quite beautiful and very old.

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    1. Oh, I love to find fossils like that. How lucky.

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  4. Oh! It's so delicate and lovely!! What a wonderful find!

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    1. Merry, I was just sitting there, sifting through shards with my fingers. And boom. Shockingly beautiful little thing.

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  5. Super wow and super cool. I love places like these that talk to us from so long ago!

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    1. Yes, the fossil hunting area of Oregon is great and reminded me of when I used to dig through the gravel pit on my parents' farm as a child, looking for tiny mementos.

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  6. Wow, that is very cool. I have never found something fossilized first hand!

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  7. It's sobering to imagine that deserts take the place of semi-tropical landscapes. The secrets a fossil could tell if it could speak. Though, now I think of it, they do speak, don't they? They just did in this post.

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    1. It is sobering to think what it once was and how it teemed with exotic species. And then I wonder what it will be in another 33 million years.

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  8. Astonishing for sure. When you stop to think about fossils, they're an incredible link to the past. We are all connected.. and to all times. Wonderful photos, Kerry.

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    1. True words, Hilary. Honestly it is a little spooky holding a fossil like that in my hand. As for the photos, thank you. I have much to aspire to when I look at photos by you and Frank.

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  9. I am going to send this to my daughter. I'd love to possess some of these treasures from so long ago. Love your darkroom analogy. How true! Awesome finds, Kerry!

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    1. Gail, next time you visit OR maybe you will head in that direction and you can collect fossils of your own! Or maybe your daughter will make a field trip out that way & find one for you...

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  10. Wow! What a beautiful, exotic landscape. Gorgeous. And yes, treasures. wonderful.

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    1. It is a fantastic landscape, and we never even made it to the Painted Hills. Next time.

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  11. The third photo does look like a sculpture of a kiss. I loved this post. We sometimes tend to gravitate towards lush vegetation or rivers and streams. I like barren landscapes every now and then. Many thanks. Loved your photos.

    Greetings from London.

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    1. Each landscape possesses its own beauty. I love the harsh landscapes of the high desert, but I also love going to the ocean which is such a different thing. Luckily I have access to both of these options here in Oregon. :)

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  12. Finding fossils is a most exciting treasure hunt. When I lived in Tahlequah, Oklahoma the capital of the Cherokee Nation, we would explore around the home of Sequoyah who invented the Cherokeeo Alphabet. Often we would find fossils of arrowheads as well as other exciting items in the area surrounding the home.

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    1. I didn't know you lived in Oklahoma. Finding arrowheads is so very special. I wonder if you still have them?

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    1. LL, I found several and I treasure them. It was super fun for me.

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  14. Impressive and imposing rock fork formations !

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    1. Yes! I imagine you may have seen a few similar places when you traveled with your daughter.

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  15. What a remarkable place - I love the 'i'm the first person to see this' experience of fossil hunting.

    Great pictures.

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

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    1. Hello Stewart. That's what it's like...being the first person to see a realllllllly old thing.

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