Magazine article National Parks

Buried Treasures

Magazine article National Parks

Buried Treasures

Article excerpt

One day last summer park archaeologist Bill Reitze set off in his truck to explore a new section of Petrified Forest. And there, at this previously unexplored site, in a dusty shallow pit in front of some sandstone structures, he discovered a mysterious and rare cache of seven axe heads. Reitze could tell they were hard to produce, made from a volcanic stone that was probably ground and polished for hours. He began asking questions: Who made them? Why were they left behind?

Reitze, who claims to have one of the coolest park archaeologist jobs in the country, relishes such questions about prehistoric human behavior. And these days, he has even more reasons to be enthusiastic about his work40,000 acres more, in fact. Since Congress authorized an expansion of the park in 2004, which will more than double its size, Petrified Forest has been acquiring archaeologically important land as resources become available. The most recent acquisition was the 4,265-acre McCauley Ranch, purchased last year by the Park Service with the help of The Conservation Fund, the National Parks Conservation Association, and an anonymous donor. …

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