World’s Largest Petrified Wood Park

Happy Halloween, trick or treaters!

Amongst the many differences between our states, one thing that is interesting to see while driving across the country is the variety of wildlife. This is something that I looked forward to on this road trip, but up until now I’d been given little more than empty promises from road signs. In the Everglades, I saw a sign that read “Panther Crossing.” I had never seen a panther in the wild before, so I excitedly awaited my first panther. However, the panther never showed up. Before that, down near the Florida Keys, I saw a sign that read “Crocodile Crossing,” but once again the featured creature never came across my path. Before that, in Vermont, I saw a sign that read “Moose Crossing,” but alas, nary a moosen!*

*You’re welcome, Brian Regan fans.

Finally, on my way to the next stop, North Dakota decided to make up for this. Without any promise-breaking road signs to ruin the surprise, they showed me my first road runner.

No, he was not followed by a coyote carrying an Acme Inc. dynamite stick or anvil, but I am not about to complain; something always goes wrong and that puts innocent bystanders at risk.

I wish I had created some spare time on the way to my next stop, because I saw this and wanted to go inside.


I found out later that many dinosaur fossils have been found in South Dakota, some of which are in this museum. ‘Tis such a pity to have to pass by without visiting because any place that deems it appropriate for a cowboy to ride a dinosaur is aces in my book!

The reason I did not have time was because I was on my way to this place.


Yes, as you just read, I went to the WORLD’S LARGEST PETRIFIED WOOD PARK- 5oo Main St., Lemmon, SD.

Petrified wood is a fossil. When a plant is buried in sediment, say perhaps from a natural phenomenon like a flood or simple from the aging process of the earth, oxygen and other decaying organic materials cannot get to it. Through water naturally cycling through the earth, especially water saturated in dissolved solids, the plant material is slowly replaced with minerals or inorganic materials. Basically, the plant is transformed into a literal carbon copy of its former self.

So here in Lemmon, much of the structures look like they are made of wood pieces, but they are all actually more like stone.

This park takes up an entire city block and was constructed in the early 1930s by a crew of men led by Ole S. Quammen. Why, I’m not really sure, but they made a castle, a wishing well, pile sculptures, and more. At one point in the 30s, the main road ran right through the middle of the park.



Dinosaur claw marks? Really? Are we sure about this? Did we find dinosaur fingernails in the crevices to prove it?


The museum/gift shop on site is also built out of petrified wood. It exhibits history on the Quammen family and some locally-significant historical artifacts.

Hey, it’s all free, and we know how we feel about free!

Yes, “we.” I am completely taking for granted that you feel the same way I do about this. Just make me happy and go with it.

Until next time, dahlings…


5 thoughts on “World’s Largest Petrified Wood Park

  1. Hi Lesley! My name is Natalie, and I’m the South Dakota writer for I’m currently writing an article about this unique park in Lemmon, but I only have found a few creative commons photos so far. I happened to stumble upon your blog during my research, and I was wondering if you would be open to me using some of your fantastic photos in my article. Of course, I would absolutely give you full credit for them.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s