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Aztec Ruins

Capulin Mountain

Casa Grande

Chaco Canyon


Craters of the Moon

Devils Tower


El Morro

Fossil Cycad

George Washington Birthplace

Glacier Bay

Gran Quivira



Lewis and Clark Cavern

Montezuma Castle

Muir Woods

Natural Bridges


Petrified Forest


Pipe Spring

Rainbow Bridge

Scotts Bluff

Shoshone Cavern





Yucca House

Glimpses of Our
National Monuments


Fossil Cyad
A reconstructed fossil cycad flower.

In an accessible and picturesque part of the Black Hills Rim in South Dakota, just at the south entrance to the hills, is the Fossil Cycad National Monument, an area of 320 acres reserved by presidential proclamation October 21, 1922, to protect its large deposits of the fossil remains of fernlike plants of the Mesozoic period, which are of intense interest to scientists. This is probably one of the most interesting fossil-plant beds yet discovered, with the most perfectly preserved specimens, and is known to scientific people throughout the world. These cycads were really of a tree-fern type, and it is time fossil tree trunks that first attracted attention about 30 years ago. Later investigations and discoveries, however, brought out the fact that these trunks, millions of years ago in the age when egg-laying monsters were still extant, actually bore flowers. While no actually open fossil flowers have been found, many of the trunks contain unexpanded buds, and in other instances fruits that had begun to mature before fossilization began. Undoubtedly the open flowers were so delicate in structure that when the events leading up to fossilization started they wilted and were destroyed. The flowering must have been profuse, as some of the trunks preserved show nearly 500 buds. Some interesting specimens of the fossil cycad are to be found in the National Museum in Washington.

The Denver-Deadwood Highway passes along the southwestern portion of the monument, making it accessible for motorists, while it can be reached either by the Chicago & North Western Railway from Hot Springs, S. Dak., or the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad from Minnekahta on the north or Edgemont on the south. A visit to this monument could be planned in connection with a trip to Wind Cave National Park, which is on the Burlington Railroad.


Last Modified: Thurs, Oct 19 2000 10:00:00 pm PDT

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