The Big Sandy Rock Swap --- Farson, WY 1998 Trip Report
by Ron Knoshaug

Judy and I decided to try our luck at finding petrified wood in Wyoming so we headed for the Big Sandy Rock Swap located in the middle of wood country: Blue Forest wood to the west and Eden valley wood to the east. After a long drive we arrived in Farsen about 10:00 AM, July 3rd. The field trips to the various areas had already left (they leave promptly at 7 AM). We picked up a map to Blue Forest and headed west on WY 28. In the excitement, we missed the road on the map and took a 2-track unimproved road toward the wood area. Since this is oil country, there are roads everywhere. We saw people milling around off in a distance and eventually ended up at the dig area. Not having a clue as to what to do to find this beautiful wood, we listened to a helpful rock hound and dug with him all day. We found much wood. The problem: it is encased in fossilized algae many times thicker than the wood itself. About quitting time, the Blue Forest expert came over to see how we were doing and promptly told us we were doing it all wrong. Where was he at 10:00 AM instead of at 6:00 PM? It was a learning experience!

That night we made it back for the ice-cream social and silent auction, where Judy out bid the other participants on palm wood. In the morning, after a hardy pancake breakfast at the annual pancake feed, we headed north to Crystal Peak for small clear quartz crystals. As long as we were on the top of the bluff, the wind kept the mosquitoes away. Once in the digging area, we dug fast to keep the Wyoming State Bird from draining too much fluid from us. After loading too many of these specimens in the four runner, we headed for Eden Valley. The area was such that we could probe with a metal rod and hammer for the wood. Rule of Thumb: Drive in the probe only as deep as you are willing to dig. After many false signals and consequently numerous holes, we struck paydirt (wood). The probe started to bend around the hard object at about 1 foot depth. Digging another hole, we found a nice log and eventually dug a trench about ten feet long. We found numerous pieces of nice wood. Most of it were rounds, some were branches, and two were nice sizable stumps.

Back at camp that night, we had a potluck dinner then went to the annual Eden Valley dance with the local people at the Grange Hall. Later, after we were in bed, the town's people started fireworks in the vicinity of our camp site. We had a spectacular view and also the added benefit of loud bangs and pressure waves from the blasts. Next morning back to the Eden Valley site and then the long drive back home. One of the key places in Farsen (with only about a half dozen buildings) was the ice cream store. Triple and quadruple cones were easily obtained at cheap prices.

We met many rockhounds from the Denver Metro area (at least 12 people from the various local rock clubs) and had an action packed 3 days. We would definitely go again. The towns people very friendly and we certainly had a good time. Next time we plan to concentrate on finding Blue Forest wood without the algae coating, large stumps of palm wood, and cane wood. Maybe we can have another field trip to the Big Sandy Rock Swap in the future.