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Collecting petrified wood in Missouri?

Posted by Charles Calkins  
Charles Calkins September 23, 2010 06:53PM

Does anyone know of public locations to collect petrified wood in Missouri? I've found small pieces at the gravel bar at the Chain of Rocks on the Illinois side of the Mississippi River, just south of the I-270 bridge from Missouri, and have been told that they likely originate in North Dakota and have been transported by the Missouri River. As I live in St. Louis, North Dakota is a bit far for a day trip, but if there are any locations in Missouri where it is found natively, or places along the Missouri River that it accumulates, I would appreciate learning of them.


Jim Angell September 27, 2010 01:13AM
I live in Columbia and walk the surrounding creeks often looking for artifacts, fossils, petrified wood, etc. You can find it in many of these creeks. I have found it mostly in Hinkson creek. The fossilized wood we find here is left from the Pennsylvanian era and this is about as far east as it can be found because the strata layer it occupies dives deep below the surface from here east and in Texas the layer is several hundred feet down. The thing I like the most about it is that this wood lived 300 million years ago, while the fossil wood from the petrified forest is only 100million years old, amazing! I have several pieces of it and have seen some too large to carry home! Jim Angell
Scott Galbraith October 19, 2010 04:55AM
My wife found a piece during a float trip in Southwest Missouri, but I look around a lot so I think it was a lucky find. The guy near Columbia seemed to have a better location.
Jim Angell November 22, 2010 02:01PM
Just reviewed my own email, oops! I should have said Columbia is about as far WEST as you can find "wood" from the Pennsylvanian era, not east. The layer dives deeper toward the west, past the Missippi... Sorry, Jim Angell
Gary Schimmelpfenig October 31, 2011 08:52PM
So Jim, if I understand the geology from what you said, the wood I'm finding in gravel neat the Missouri River confluence, is eroded in place to the Pennsylvanian and not carried down river from way out west. And this is about the edge before the layer is buried deep. Gary
Jim Angell January 02, 2012 06:39PM
Gary, Yes, that's the way I understand it, at least the specimans I find are always around coal deposits, I suppose it's possible that there could be some fossilized wood "carried" in by the river but because of the distance, I doubt it... Jim
mark Isabell June 26, 2012 12:54AM
I live outside a the little town of Calhoun Mo roughly 1 1/2 hours southwest of Columbia and have found 1 small piece in the 4 years Ive been here, my family has lived on the farm though for 60 years and have heard none of my uncles or dad talk about it although they swam in the creeks and roamed the property as kids
TJ TURNER July 20, 2012 10:39PM
I live in Green Ridge Mo.I have found petrifiedwood at my moms farm all my life alsowhen younger found what looked like petrified cactuswood we would number each peice with tape take back to house and put a 15 foot tree back together piece for piece.
Stephen C. Blyskal August 10, 2012 11:16PM
You don't mention the size of the pieces you found at Chain of Rocks. Small pieces up to 3-4 inches can be carried great distances, especially during the glacial epochs when the rivers flowed much more than now. Here is Texas you can find small pieces of petrified wood hundreds of miles from their source, and in the case of the Rio Grande River gravels, much more than that. Most trees as we know them didn't make their appearance until the Mesozoic Era, and came into their own in the age of mammals, starting 60mya. Most "trees" found in the Pennsylvanian sediments are actually ferns that grew to tree size. Missouri, where I went to college as a geologist, has a lot of Paleozoic rocks exposed at the surface, particularly around St. Louis.

Also, the way most petrified wood is formed, by being buried in muds rich in volcanic ash (like in Texas), or being buried by volcanic eruptions of ash eliminates most formations older than the Cretaceous from consideration. The majority of extrusive volcanic activity occurred and is still occurring as a result of continental drift and the accretion of ocean sediments to the North America continent in the western part of the country. Think Rockies and Cascades. This started in the Cretaceous and is still occurring today (Mt. St Helens).

Hard, silicified pieces of petrified wood can survive long transport and it wouldn't surprise me that what you found came from the headwaters of the Missouri in the Rocky Mountains.
rock breaker August 27, 2013 01:31AM
found a piece roughly 6inh. by 6inh. laying by my back deck cant find out where it came from live in lake st. louis
Micah Schroer May 28, 2014 04:22PM
Just found this piece last weekend right outside of Columbia MO. I find them all the time as the creek on our property is loaded with petrified wood and native american artifacts. This small piece here is loaded with some sort of crystals, very beautiful in the light. Carried out a 50lb piece a couple weekends ago, and have found petrified stumps way too large to carry out by myself,
open | download - 10415725_10203527705768969_2086061834930649483_n.jpg (80.8 KB)
gerald branstetter June 16, 2014 04:48PM
I have a large petrified stump 5 feet in diameter that my dad and I brought back to Kansas city mo. . it came from the fayett mo. area there were fifty or sixty of them some larger and some smaller we got this in the late 50's
gerald branstteter March 18, 2015 07:46PM
Gerald I was amazed at your information about the "cactuswood" !! I too found a a piece of Cactus wood on the banks of the Missouri River down by Easley Mo. About 40+ yrs Ago! Have kept it and wondered about it all these yrs. It's pretty heavy and is 10" × 6" interesting to hear someone else mention this!
I am not an expert....This kinda thing fascinates me!
Bill Hartman May 30, 2015 09:46PM

I don't usually collect rocks unless it's a Petoskey stone from northern Michigan. A few weeks ago I was walking along the Silver Fork just outside of Columbia when I came across a this rock (see attachment) and I had this compulsion to identify it. I believe it is petrified wood/plant matter which lead me to this web site. I would really like if someone could confirm or redirect me so I can properly identify this rock. Thanks
Bob Harman May 30, 2015 10:04PM
Nothing in your pix definitely identifies the example as petrified wood altho it might be. To me it looks most like a portion of a large iron stained chert or chalcedony (microcrystalline quartz) nodule. CHEERS…..BOB
Bill Hartman May 30, 2015 10:19PM
Thanks Bob. I too thought is was chert until I viewed the attached picture.
This picture had the following description, "Silicified "petrified" wood is formed when buried plant debris is infiltrated with mineral-bearing waters which precipitate quartz. This quartz infills the cavities within the wood and often replaces the woody tissues. This specimen is about four inches (ten centimeters) across and is from Yuma County, Arizona."
You can see the similarity on my earlier close up pictures. Still wondering what it is....

Bob Harman May 30, 2015 10:46PM
BILL, The picture of the silicified petrified wood has subtle horizontal striations suggesting tree rings or part of limb structures if you look closely and use a bit of imagination. Also the silicification color variation seems greater than the rather uniform ochre orange brown iron staining of your specimen. Like I said, yours might be petrified wood, just nothing in your pix, for me, definitely nails it down. CHEERS…….BOB
Patrick Phillips August 24, 2015 04:25AM
I found this in a creek in East Central Missouri in July 2015. I am pretty certain that it is petrified wood. I cut it in half with a concrete blade on a 4 inch grinder and tumbled it. Does it look like petrified wood? It is intriguing. I I think that there is a great deal of it in the area. Also found nice mozarkite-type flint. Nice stuff and lots of it. This is from south of Hannibal about 15 miles from the Mississippi.


Julie grant October 31, 2015 08:00PM
This petrified rock came from my grandmas grandpas farm in Conway Missouri in the 1920s. Does anyone know what kind of trees they were and possible age or period
Wayne Corwin November 01, 2015 04:26AM

Your photos didn't attach,,,,, try again.
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