'Conscience letters' and photographs from the Petrified Forest National Park.
Located in the Painted Desert of Northeast Arizona, the Petrified Forest was established, in part, to protect a vast deposit of petrified wood dating back to the Late Triassic period—roughly 200 million years ago. According to park administration, the preservation efforts have been an overwhelming success. In the more than one hundred years since its establishment in 1906, however, some visitors have still been unable to resist the urge to remove wood from the park. Some of these same visitors eventually return their ill gotten souvenirs by mail, accompanied by ‘conscience letters.’ The content of each letter varies, but writers often include stories of misfortune, attributed directly to their stolen petrified wood. Car troubles. Cats with cancer. Deaths of family members. For many, their hope is that by returning these rocks, good fortune will return to their lives. Other common themes include expressions of remorse, requests for forgiveness, and warnings to future visitors. The oldest letter in the archive dates back to 1934, and now, 80 years after that letter was received, the conscience letters reflect a shifting awareness, both directly and indirectly, through writing that is at turns humorous, tragic, superstitious, and profound.
Softcover, 144 pages, 140 color photographs.