0827: Chazy Reef Revisited

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On our recent trip to Maine, Cindy and I stopped first in Vermont to visit friends on Isle La Motte, a beautiful island near the top of Lake Champlain. We were first drawn to the island a few years ago when we sought out the world famous, 480 million year old Chazy Fossil Reef. That visit, which resulted in a show of my Chazy Reef fossil images, also began several friendships that grow warmly with each passing year.

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So it was time for a visit. Dinner with friends, old and new; a visit to a terrific exhibit “A Walk Through Time” at the Goodsell Ridge Preserveand,of course, another chance to photograph some of the oldest fossils I’ve ever had the opportunity to encounter.

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The Preserve, one half of the Isle La Motte Preservation Trust, is an 81 acre reef site with a Visitor’s Center and Museum. Also, there sits a newly revived and revitalized barn that will soon formally open and serve as a nature center. It’s an old beauty brought back to life by the skilled hands, strong commitment and deep love of the local folks. They are as much a treasure as is the actual reef. For it is only due to their efforts that this world-important science site remains preserved as a National Natural Landmark.

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The formal dedication and opening of the Goodsell Barn is set for September 19. I have been asked to produce a show for that opening. It is an honor and a pleasure to take part in the event. I’ll have more information on the show and related events soon. In the meantime, this is a selection of images, all taken at Chazy Reef, that I am busy printing and prepping for the show.

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And now, on to Maine.

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A few more images taken of the rock walls – those that are assaulted every day by the ocean tides.

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It seems like every day I was drawn to these rocks…

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…and every evening to our favorite place at sunset.

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We’re already planning for our trip next year! Thank you Eric and Betty!

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Once darkness fell we had company! They were no problem. They hid in the dark and didn’t eat much!

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Thanks for the visit.

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Chazy Reef – Part 2

It turns out that I came away from Chazy Reef with much more material than I had even hoped for. So, for today I’d like to focus on the Goodsell Preserve. Part 3 will wrap up with a focus on the Fisk Quarry Preserve. These two preserves comprise the land protected by the Isle La Motte Preservation Trust (ILMPT), an organization founded by local citizens in 1998. And, thanks to their efforts, in 2009 the Chazy Fossil Reef was awarded the designation of National Natural Landmark by the National Park Service.

The Goodsell Preserve

Fresh mown paths met us at Goodsell, allowing for an easy, relaxing walk through lush fields. The breeze off Lake Champlain and a warm early Summer sun made it ideal timing for our visit. The 81 acres are interlaced with paths connecting various reef mounds.

And it’s these mounds that contain some of the oldest fossils I have ever seen. Ordovician Period fossils such as gastropods, bryozoa, crinoids, cephalopods, etal. are present, sometimes only as faint outlines. No matter that they might sometimes be faint, given their age (approximately 450 million years old).

The Visitors Center on site is a converted and restored farmhouse (see last week’s blog for image). It contains, among other things, an instructive video about the two sites, and a collection of local fossils. The next five images are from that collection.

I should take a moment to stress, as I often do, that I am an artist and not a scientist. While I try my best to accurately identify that which I photograph, and I try my best to get good identification from those who know, I recognize that I often fall short where proper identification is concerned. So anyone out there who knows such things is most welcome to comment on any of the images. These next three are fine examples. Stromatoporoids? Algae? Sponges? Or just cool marbleized rock? Either way, the patterns are compelling.

I’ll leave you with one final image for this segment – the old barn at Goodsell, right behind the Visitors Center. The hope, according to Ms Fitch, founder and president of the Trust, is that it become an education center. Like everything else, that will take support. This is a national treasure, saved and protected by ordinary citizens, and united by common goal. They would love your support. Visit if Summer vacation brings you anywhere near. You will be glad you did.

Next week I’ll be writing about current news surrounding Gilboa and the world’s oldest forest. Then the following week back to the world’s oldest fossil reef in Part 3 – the Fisk Quarry Preserve.

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Thank you as always for visiting. More images at www.artmurphy.com