Many visitors to one of Utah’s lesser-known state parks seem to think there is an ancient curse hanging over the area. They typically have a string of rotten luck that proves — to them at least — the curse is real.
Guilt-ridden former visitors often send chunks of petrified wood back to the park, apologizing for having stolen it years before.
“It happens about a half-dozen to a dozen times a year,” said park manager Kendall Farnsworth, as he held an envelope mailed to the park containing a piece of fossilized wood. “They’re sending it back, trying to get rid of the curse.”
A letter accompanying the rock said, “I picked up this small piece of wood when I visited last year. I thought the warnings were phony. Since that time, I have had three accidents.”
The apologetic letter writer went on to describe a series of accidents, injuries and misfortunes, including a broken collarbone, three broken ribs and a broken foot, not to mention a fire in his motor home and the fact that the engine in his car “went south shortly after the warranty expired.” All of that, he believes, was payback for defying the curse.
“I am a true believer,” the writer concluded, asking park officials to right his wrong. “Please take this back.”
The alleged curse evidently has not substantially deterred visitors from plundering the state park just outside the city of Escalante in Garfield County, though. Areas nearest the parking lot and campground have been picked clean of petrified wood, an indication that the greediest visitors may also be the laziest. Visitors have to hike a mile or so up a trail to the top of a mesa to find petrified wood deposits that are relatively unspoiled by collectors.
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