In the town of Lemmon, South Dakota, a curiosity that occupies a full city block will pique an interest in both geology and architecture. The Petrified Wood Park and Museum highlights structures completely made out of petrified wood, fossils and stone. The park features towers up to 20 feet tall, a castle comprised of petrified wood, petrified dinosaur, and mammoth bones, and hundreds of petrified sculptures and cannonball formations just waiting to be discovered.
Ole S. Quammen constructed the Petrified Wood Park from 1930-32. A sign commemorates his efforts honoring them saying, “Thirty to forty otherwise unemployed men received sustenance during this period.” Under his supervision, Quammen, an architect and an amateur geologist, had the men scavenge rocks and fossils from the vicinity and haul them back to Lemmon to construct the park. In 1954, it was donated to the city by Quammen’s heirs for the community to share. The park features a wishing well, a waterfall, and a castle.
The castle weighs 300 tons and boasts towering spires and turrets. Also in the park are two separate museums, both built entirely of petrified wood. Dinosaur claws, bird tracks and fossilized snakes can be seen in the swirls and patterns one of the highlights is a structure that contains dinosaur clawed stones.
Each Christmas, the petrified “trees” at the petrified wood park are decorated with lights, and become part of a Fantasyland display.
The park also features a gift shop that is open from Memorial Day (late May) until Labor Day (early September).