The boys and I hiked along the ATV trail onto the side of a strip-mined hill outside St. Clair. The ground, as far as the steep cliff down to the valley, was covered with fractured shale. We began to pick up flat plates, flipping them over to see if the fossils were whole, prying at the thin layers of rock. Our hands blackened quickly, and we began to save the beautiful ones. Alethopteris, neuropteris, sphenophylum – the 300-million-year-old fern imprints had been laid bare when the mountain was destroyed.