Stories in Stone
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THESE Stories in stone are offered with the hope that they may arouse in you the same enthusiastic interest that they arouse in me—that they may induce you to delve into the secrets of the earth and find abiding satisfaction.

There is romance in the rocks for him who can read their language. The fossils and the crystals, the pebbles and the sand, are the symbols in which the story of the earth is written. Some striking chapters of this great story are written in the scenic features of our own western country, in which are found most of the fine examples of natural expression here described and interpreted.

With the increase in the number of our national parks, the establishment of a National Park Service, and the organization of park associations, the intelligent appreciation of natural scenery, as well as the desire to know something about its meaning and its origin, is certain to increase.

Natural scenery is directly dependent on the character of the rocks. The kinds of plants that adorn a scene—the forests and the flowers—depend largely on the nature of the soil, and the nature of the soil depends on the composition of the rocks from which it is formed.

Great cliffs, picturesque waterfalls, and forested mountains do not simply happen. To find their underlying causes we search the records of past geologic ages. A full understanding and appreciation of a landscape necessitates a knowledge of the underlying rocks. It is hoped that this book may help to convey some of that knowledge.

The book is not offered as a text in geology. It is merely a collection of facts and tales which have proved fascinating to me and which I believe will prove interesting to you.

The work is not exhaustive. Volumes fail to exhaust such a subject. Geology is a young science and is growing day by day through new discoveries. The more clearly geology is understood the more clearly will the significance of the new discoveries appear.

To know truly the world we live in may well be one of our highest purposes, and even if the path of our knowledge shall be endless we shall find along it enough of wonder and of beauty to gladden us in our journey.



The author of this book, Dr. Willis T. Lee, died June 16, 1926, at the age of sixty-one, before the book was put in type. After several years of experience as a teacher of geology in colleges and universities, Doctor Lee entered the Government service as a member of the United States Geological Survey. In this capacity he made extended studies of the geologic formations of the West, particularly to determine their correlation—that is, their equivalence or succession in age—as a means of interpreting the geologic history of the earth. Throughout his work he displayed the initiative of the explorer and the critical observation and open mind of the man of science. He was the first Government scientist to use the airplane in geologic work. His exploration of the Carlsbad Cavern was another of his notable exploits. The diversity of his scientific interest is well shown in this book. In his death Science has lost a faithful servant.


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Last Updated: —2009