Petrified Sea Gardens, Saratoga Springs

Petrified Sea Gardens, also known as Ritchie Park, is a National Historic Landmark near Saratoga Springs, New York. It preserves an area of ancient stromatolites in a Cambrian rock layer. Stromatolites "were first recognized, discovered, and interpreted in North America" here, on property owned by Robert F. Ritchie, a stonemason and amateur geologist, who detected them in 1922 and opened a park to show them to the public in 1924.
Stromatolites, which are marine algae growths, were unknown, and it was a puzzle whether these fossils were organic or inorganic products. James Hall (1811–1898), the first State Paleontologist of New York, identified them as being organic and placed stromatolites in a new genus.
Pioneering female paleontologist Winifred Goldring (1888–1971), "who was the fourth State Paleontologist of New York,...wrote the most exhaustive study on these ancient stromatolites."
The site was a childhood inspiration for Stephen Jay Gould who went on to become "one of the most famous paleontologists of the twentieth century".
It was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1999, by which date it had already been named a National Natural Landmark.
The site was open as an educational site operated by a non-profit, the Friends of Petrified Sea Gardens until 2006. It is currently closed to the public. It is located at 42 Petrified Sea Gardens Road, about north of N.Y. 29, west of Saratoga Springs, New York.
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Petrified Sea Gardens Reviews
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  • The Petrified Sea Gardens are gone -- turned into a quarry, alas -- but there is still a small area that is well worth seeing if you are interested in geology or ancient creatures. It is called Lester...  more »
  • Unique geological site a short distance from Saratoga Springs, NY. Well marked trails featuring a walk across a 490 million year-old fossil (stromatolites) sea floor; Domed Cyanobacterial Cabbage-head...  more »
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