“Yellowstone’s Fossil Forests” program by Lee Silliman hosted by Yellowstone Gateway Museum

The Yellowstone Gateway Museum hosts “Yellowstone’s Fossil Forests,” an illustrated slide program given by photographer Lee Silliman on Wednesday, May 28, 6:30 PM, at the Livingston-Park County Public Library, 228 W. Callender, in Livingston. His program complements an exhibit of contemporary and historic photographs (of the same title) that is currently on display at the museum at 118 W. Chinook in Livingston, Montana. Silliman’s beautiful photographs will be on display through October of 2014.

The program and exhibit focus upon the amazing petrified trees of Yellowstone National Park. Eclipsed by Yellowstone’s geothermal features and world-class wildlife, few people realize how remarkable these fossilized specimens are. Not only are they extensive in area (64 square kilometers) and depth (27 layers in 1200 vertical feet), but most uniquely, they comprise the world’s only petrified forest that contains specimens standing upright in their original orientation. These in situ trees were buried by ancient pyroclastic debris, and since laid bare by erosion, now stand vertically as ghostly sentinels from the park’s volcanic past.

Yellowstone backcountry photographer Lee Silliman has sought out these fossilized remnants over a seventeen year period to record them in black and white with his 8 x 10 inch view camera. His twelve contemporary prints of rarely seen petrified trees are complemented by vintage postcards and nineteenth century stereoview cards from his personal collection. The exhibit concludes with other historical imagery, as well as snapshots of the difficult terrain in which these phenomenal objects are found. These petrified trees of majestic color and stature are surely another jewel in Yellowstone’s crown.

Lee Silliman, a retired high school science and mathematics teacher and former museum photo archivist now living in Missoula, has been interested in the history and art of Montana and the American West since his youth.

The program is free and refreshments are provided.

The final spring event is held at the museum on Saturday and Sunday, June 7 and 8. The second annual Montana Spring Knap-In features flint-knapping, fire starting, spinning, atlatl throwing, cordage making and more. Montana Shooting Sports 4-H Club is selling food for a fundraiser on Saturday. The weekend at the museum is free and open to the public.