Opalized oak specimens with striking beauty, attributed to Clover Creek, Lincoln County, Idaho, can be seen in numerous museums around the world. Even the casual observer notes the fossil wood grain, reminiscent of modern oak. The provenance of these ‘golden oak’ specimens was a small, unique deposit. Historical documents, photographs and oral histories provide insights into the 1895 fossil discovery, its subsequent excavation, promotion, and distribution. Land surveys in the years immediately following Idaho statehood in 1890 are linked to the fossil discovery. Local farmers, related by marriage, excavated and promoted the fossil wood. A spectacular longitudinal cut specimen was featured on the cover of A. E. Foote’s 1897 mineral catalog. Archived correspondence establishes that specimens were promoted privately before being offered publicly. Current research indicates some specimens suffered fungus damage while the tree was alive. Previously unknown museum specimens are described and incorporated into a hypothetical reconstruction of the fossil tree.

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