Time for another excerpt from our latest book, 101 Travel Bits: Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Today's excerpt is from the book's entry on one of its many hiking trails - the Coal Vein Nature Trail.
Among the layers of rocks beneath the badlands at Theodore Roosevelt National Park are veins of coal. Although typically deep underground, some of these veins are at or near the surface of the Earth. In 1951, during a storm, lightning struck one of these shallow veins in the South Unit of the park, catching the vein of coal on fire. For 26 years, until 1977, this coal vein burned beneath the surface of the park.
While the fire burned, visitors to Theodore Roosevelt National Park could often see indications that it burned beneath their feet. In some places, the heat from the fire burned off all the vegetation above it. They could sometimes see smoke, burning coals, and flames. When the fire reached the surface, more than a few park visitors used this to their advantage by using it as a convenient method to roast marshmallows.
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