MADISON COUNTY, Miss. (WJTV) – We have old things to see here in Mississippi. But nothing anywhere nearly approaching the age of the petrified logs in the Mississippi Petrified Forest near Flora.

They’re not as old as dinosaurs. Dinosaurs went extinct about 66 million years ago, but these trees were living half that time ago; about 36 million years. They were also growing in places far away from Mississippi.

“The petrified forest here was the result of an ancient flood and log jam. The logs bottlenecked here. Got buried rapidly. That allowed them to petrify, and they were uncovered by erosion in the late 1800s,”said Austin Shoemaker at Mississippi Petrified Forest.

Shoemaker’s great grandparents heard about this area of Mississippi with all of the petrified logs and bought it back in 1962. So, Austin is 4th generation of his family to preserve the logs for us. Now, even though this Petrified Forest is the only one of its kind in the eastern United States, it’s still not like the Petrified Forest in Arizona. 

But it is unique in what it preserves and what it reveals about ancient earth. There were trees and land and water and rivers. Noah Rodriguez is a fan of old rocks. Has quite a collection back home in Louisiana.

Noah’s dad, Louis, said the Petrified Forest is a natural field trip back in time for the family.

“Very cool experience. You definitely wouldn’t think you’d find something like this in Mississippi,” he said.

Wandering the trail, letting your mind wander at the same time, brings up all kinds of thoughts. Not only how small we are compared to what’s here in the universe, but how young we are compared to how long something’s been here.

The Mississippi Petrified Forest is open every day except Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmans Day and the day after. There is a charge to walk the trail.