The Petrified Forest National Park in Northeast Arizona protects one of the largest deposits of petrified wood in the world. Despite stern warnings, visitors remove several tons of petrified wood from the park each year, often returning these rocks by mail (sometimes years later), accompanied by a “conscience letter.” These letters often include stories of misfortune attributed directly to their theft: car troubles, cats with cancer, deaths of family members, etc. Some writers hope that by returning these stolen rocks, good fortune will return to their lives, while others simply apologize or ask forgiveness. “They are beautiful,” reads one letter, “but I can’t enjoy them. They weigh like a ton of bricks on my conscience. Sorry….” Bad Luck, Hot Rocks documents this ongoing phenomenon, combining a series of original photographs of these otherworldly “bad luck rocks” with facsimiles of intimate, oddly entertaining letters from the park’s archives.
Read about two thirds and skimmed the rest. Fascinating how superstitious people can be and how they cast about for any possible source of misfortune: stolen rocks weighing on their conscience, feeling that they are being punished for moral failings by the universe. Interesting interview at the end with the ranger’s perspective and why they are shifting their message.
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