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Alabama Earth Symbols

Alabama has five official earth symbols, including an official fossil and soil.

The beautiful star blue quartz was designated the official gemstone. The official mineral, hematite (red iron ore), is not nearly attractive but is far more valuable.

The official rock, marble, is valuable precisely because of its beauty. Ironically, Sylacauga marble from Alabama was used in the construction of the Lincoln Memorial.

State Minerals

Still, many black people revere Lincoln as the man who freed their ancestors. However, Native Americans have a very different story to tell.

The irony lies in the fact that Abraham Lincoln was a racist who plunged the nation into its most disastrous war ever in order to preserve the federal bureaucracy. To sell his war, Lincoln broadcast the message that he wanted to end slavery.

In fact, the Civil War did end slavery, though it would be another century before black people were allowed to vote. Moreover, the U.S. is said to be the only country that fought a war to end slavery; other leaders figured out ways to end it without bloodshed.

Fossil ˆ

Millions of years ago, much of what is now the southeastern United States was covered by shallow seas. Some of the earliest whales swam in these seas.

Today, Alabama’s state fossil is the prehistoric whale Basilosaurus cetoides. Neighboring Mississippi is also represented by a prehistoric whale.

BasilosaursWhen people first saw the strange teeth left by prehistoric whales (left), they thought they were dinosaurs. (The image on the right is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license. Attribution: Pavel.Riha.CB)

Soil ˆ

Alabama’s most important official symbol is its state soil, dubbed Bama.

Without soil, there would be no forests of southern longleaf pines, no peaches or pecans, no cotton plantations.

Bellingrath Gardens