NC Petrified Wood Collecting
Uwharrie National Forest
Montgomery County, North Carolina
April 9, 2005
By Mike Streeter

Last Saturday, after we finished up at the Glendon-Standard Minerals semi-annual pyrite dig, Chrissy, Opal and I headed west into Montgomery County. There is a creek in the Uwharrie National Forest where petrified wood can be found. This was our first opportunity to collect North Carolina petrified wood. Some of you may be surprised to hear that North Carolina has its fair share of petrified wood, as do nearly all of these United States. We were joined by our good buddy, David Peterson.

We made it to the location about mid afternoon. The sky was completely clear and the 72-degree temperature was perfect for sloshing up and down the creek in our waders. David was not able to prepare for this surprise trip by bringing waders, so he had to make his way through the forest to the numerous gravel bars on the sides of the creek to do his collecting. But, he did just fine and found the first specimen of wood.

As always, nobody had a better time in the creek than did our Opal. She, too, is a wood collector, but she prefers the present day un-petrified variety in the form of sticks. Opal does a pretty good job going ahead to test the depth of the water to keep me from swamping my hip waders. Chrissy had nothing to fear as her chest waders kept her high and dry in the relatively shallow creek.

We walked about 3/4 of a mile downstream and found a small assortment of petrified wood pieces that varied in color from tan to black. After minimal success on the gravel bars, I had decided to pluck out and examine rocks from the bottom of the creek. Most of these were covered in a thin film of algae so I could not tell what I had until I pulled them out of the water. Ironically, I finally recovered my largest piece of wood after returning to near where we had parked. Not to be outdone, Chrissy decided to do her own looking at the creek bottom while David resigned himself by watching from a dry spot and looking for wildflowers. After only a couple hours of collecting, we were satisfied that we had done the location justice as we had a few nice keepers in our buckets.

I looked up the location in my geology books and references after we got back home. I found out that it is located in what is called the Wadesboro Basin, "which is filled with Upper Triassic continental sedimentary rocks: fanconglomerates, conglomerates, arkosic sandstones, and siltstones." (from the Geologic Map of the Charlotte 1-degree by 2-degree Quadrangle, North Carolina, and South Carolina by Richard Goldsmith, Danial J. Milton and J. Wright Horton, Jr., USGS , 1988). This is just the type of geologic environment that one might expect to find petrified wood . . . and we did!