On Marcy's Trail
When intrepid explorer Randolph B. Marcy took on the task of discovering the headwaters of the Red River, he left in his wake a detailed
journal of the people, nature, and places he encountered. His incredible journey even spawned copy-cats, most notably Oklahoma
historian Angie Debo, who trekked up the Red River using Marcy's notes in the 1950s.

Marcy's impressions of the Red River watershed was that it was fertile, habitable even by those of non-Amerindian origin, and also a little
peculiar. The peculiarities were many-fold: Marcy encountered the impenetrable Cross Timbers; marveled at the millions of prairie dogs
on the plains; and was astounded by the remnants of a petrified forest littering the prairies.

Apparently, Marcy found large chunks of petrified limbs, trunks, and stumps of trees along grassy stretches between the Cross Timber
strands. A large flash flood must have destroyed the trees, and the receding, mineral-heavy waters deposited them around the flood
zone. After thousands (millions!) of years, the minerals that seeped into the crevices of the original wood took on the shape of the tree in
a process known as "replacement." The wood had been replaced with rock, but the rock took on the visual characteristics of the tree.

While the best-known petrified forest in the United States is still wowing visitors in Arizona, the Red River's "crystallized cottonwoods"
that Marcy described no longer occupy their original resting places. Instead, countless pioneer builders have utilized these strange
rocks in constructing stores and houses all over North Texas. These buildings greatly enhance the Red River Valley's unique setting and
history.

So, I say, what better way to retrace Marcy's steps than to re-discover some of these ancient remains? Following are photos of buildings
fortified with the petrified wood that was quarried from the region. I hope to find many more examples that not only demonstrate pioneer
ingenuity, but also the beauty of the materials as well as the pitiful lack of preservation efforts made towards this indigenous
architectural heritage.
This petrified wood abode in Stoneburg, Montague County, Texas is also faced with chunks of molten, green glass. I am not sure about the
original use of this beautiful building. Stoneburg's downtown burned during a rash of grass fires in 2009, so this is one of the village's last
physical ties to the past.
Built in the 1920s, the Texas Tourist Camp and Cafe in Decatur, Texas was faced with petrified wood. Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow were
supposedly customers of this unique roadside motel.
Zoom Zooms, a smoke and beer shop located off of Locust Street in Denton, was once a full-service gas station. Errected in the late 1920s, the
building is almost completely made up of petrified wood.
Detail of Zoom Zoom's "wooden" construction. Here's the quandary -  on fire insurance maps, is this building listed as "wooden," "cement," or
"stone?" Ha ha, don't answer that.
A large, petrified stump was used as part of the wall in a motor lodge/ gas station near Jacksboro. Look, there's a voodoo cross . Wooga wooga.
This motor lodge/gas station northwest of Jacksboro has been faced with lots of fossilized stone, sandstone blocks, and even oyster shells. Now
abandoned, this place used to entice travelers with its architectural wonders. (Yes, that's a voodoo cross on the door.)
On US 380 west of Jacksboro sits an abandoned motor lodge that doesn't just use petrified wood for its building material, but also silica and glass.
According to historians, Marcy's "chrystallized cottonwoods" were found on the prairie surrounding today's Alvord. Not many structures in Alvord
sport the petrified wood, but I did find this old building - motel? - attached to a florist shop.
Questions or comments? E-mail me: robin@redriverhistorian.com
The rooms and attached garages of the Texas Tourist Camp in Decatur offered the visitor a "fortified" stay.
Aqua blocks are heated sands and clays that are used for glass manufacturing. They harden into this beautiful, aquamarine hue.
At an abandoned tourist court on US 77 in Ardmore, Oklahoma.
Hardware store in downtown Handley, just east of Fort Worth, on US 80.
A fossilized part of a building in Oklahoma.
Check out the mill stone embedded in this beauty in Tolar, Texas!