Elena's Quartzite Pink Elephant at KSHS

In a comment on my Getting There is NOT Half the Fun hub, Elena! said she was "mesmerized" by the pink rock that appears in many of the photos. "Pink elephant in the room" is how she described it.

Well, I've walked past it so many times in the trek to the doors of the library that I didn't even notice it anymore. Didn't cross my mind to stop and snap its picture that day, either. It was there, but it wasn't...if you know what I mean. Like a timid stepchild, or a wallflower at the prom.

But Elena noticed!

And thanks to her nudging, I went back, took these closeups, and did a little research into its origins.

The side you see in the first photo, looking toward the Center for Historical Research.
The side you see in the first photo, looking toward the Center for Historical Research.
Looking east toward the Koch Industries' Education Center and the access road.
Looking east toward the Koch Industries' Education Center and the access road.

What the marker says:

"This large boulder was carried to Kansas by a glacier several thousandfeet thick about 700,000 years ago during the Pleistocene (Ice) Age. The boulder was plucked from a bedrock source, the nearestlocated in southeastern South Dakota or northwestern Kansas[see correction below] by glaciers.

This particular boulder is madeof a rock known as Sioux quartzite.Quartzite is sandstone that has been subjected to heat and pressure,and has been cemented with silica.Sioux quartzite is almost 100% quartz,so it resists erosion. It weighs 10.4 tons."

[CORRECTION: Sioux quartzite is a common sight all over northwest Kansas, but that's not its "bedrock source". It was formed in the region where Minnesota, South Dakota and Iowa intersect, then plucked from there and carried here by a glacier.]

It weighs almost ten and a half tons!

That's 20,800 pounds. Not exactly a rock one hauls to a flower bed (or a terrace!) in a wheelbarrow.

According to Rock County Prairie Stone in Luverne, Minnesota (a company that will haul Pink Elephant's cousins to wherever you want), Sioux quartzite was formed over 1.75 billion years ago. But KSHS's site claims it happened over 2 billion years ago, during Precambrian times.

Far be it from me to quibble about a quarter of a billion years one way or the other. How many years is a quarter of a billion anyway? Better yet, does anybody but a geologist or an archeologist really care?

At any rate, I tend to favor the figure quoted by the people in Minnesota. After all, they're surrounded by the stuff. And there's so much of it in the Sioux Falls, South Dakota, area that the Federal Building there was constructed of it. Not to mention the falls in Sioux Falls flow over a huge outcropping of quartzite in the Big Sioux River, hence the name of the city and the stone.

Kansas only has the quartzite a southward creeping glacier left behind when it reversed course.

Which just proves one region's trash is another's treasure, one piece deemed worthy of a prominent spot in the historical society's side yard. But thanks to a lovely and inquisitive lady in Madrid, no longer overlooked by a certain frequent visitor.

UPDATE: Pink Elephant has a sister!

Once again, I've been overlooking the obvious. There's another pink boulder at the corner of the parking lot nearest the access road.

As in...I have to drive toward it for 100 yards or more to get to a parking spot.

As in...I have to go slightly left to go around it, or make a hard right in front of it to get to the first row of parking. Straight ahead is not an option.

Until now, did my brain ever register 'There's a very large thing in front of the car that makes straight ahead not an option'?

Obviously not.

This Pink Beauty doesn't have an information marker, but I'm guessing it's another chunk of Sioux quartzite.

At least the "duh" moment happened without having to be hit upside the head - figuratively speaking - with a 2X4. It came in the form of a comment from Elena! who noticed it in a pic of the Mission Kitchen Garden from in front of the Education Center. The EC was originally the Potawatomi Mission School for Manual Labor erected in 1846.

But that's another hub...

That's the access road. Gotta be blind to miss this beauty.  But I did...many times!
That's the access road. Gotta be blind to miss this beauty. But I did...many times!
And then again on the way out too!
And then again on the way out too!

More by this Author

  • A Wild Weekend in...IOWA?

    What could Elton John, Billy Joel, a cemetery, a 70-something nudist, John Wayne, the book and movie The Bridges of Madison County, and a tanning salon possibly have in common? They were all part of an unplanned,...

  • Clark Tower in Winterset Iowa's City Park

    Clark Memorial Tower at the far edge of Winterset Iowa's City Park is dedicated to Madison County pioneers Caleb and Ruth Clark. But who were the Clarks? What did they do to warrant erecting the crenelated tower of a...

  • Why the Titanic and Contra Concordia Sank

    The Titanic sank in April 1912 and the Italian Contra Concordia almost exactly 100 years later (January 2012)...at almost the same time of night. But that's not all they have in common.

Comments 30 comments

Hawkesdream profile image

Hawkesdream 7 years ago from Cornwall

Now we know! thanks for the update.

TheSandman 7 years ago

Great Hub, I love things about the earth as you know. Earth Science as we called it then was one of my favorite High School subjects.

Teresa McGurk profile image

Teresa McGurk 7 years ago from The Other Bangor

I like how this whole story evolved -- trust Elena to notice the beauty of the rock in the first place. Glacier action fascinates me (hey: I don't get out much) because it took so long, yet it mimics river action. Well, mimics is not the right word. . . .

Amanda Severn profile image

Amanda Severn 7 years ago from UK

There is a similarly celebrated rock (but not such a pretty one!) in a park in Hove in the UK called 'the Goldstone'. I believe it was ploughed up by a farmer years ago when this part of Sussex was all farmland. Like you, I've walked past many, many times, and never bothered to inspect it more closely, but maybe next time I'm over that way, I'll check it out properly!

C. C. Riter 7 years ago

Thanks to Elena and then you. kewl

Jewels profile image

Jewels 7 years ago from Australia

Would be interesting to compare the quartz Federal building to say one made from granite or limestone and feel the difference. I'd love a home made from quartz, would be amazing.

Elena. profile image

Elena. 7 years ago from Madrid

Jama, you have a SLAVE, errr... friend, I mean friend... for life! I can't tell you how thrilled I was to see this hub sitting on my inbox, and how thrilled I've been to read about it! 

So the pink elephant HAS now been dealt with! Bravo, Jama, bravo!  The close up is even dandier than the images from a distance in your brother hub, I can't believe pink is its natural color!  Who knew!  I was thinking maybe the good people at KSHS had painted the boulder to decorate the "ought-to-have-been-a-parking-space-lawn" :-)

I'm with you on the 1.7 or 2 billion thing.  I can't see how getting picky about that will take us anywhere! Laugh!  I think I'll be back later to awww about this whole business some more.  Geez, I can't believe you did a hub to satisfy my curiosity!! I could SMOOCH you big time!

JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 7 years ago from Central Oklahoma Author

Elena, no way I couldn't go back and check it out to satisfy your curiosity...and mine!  If memory serves, KS also has a meteor on display somewhere. Had to make sure the Pink Elephant wasn't it. (You know that'll be how I'll think of it from now on!)

Right now there's an ad here for diamonds, which used to be the only rock I was familiar with, pink or otherwise!

JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 7 years ago from Central Oklahoma Author

Hawkesdream and C.C., you're most welcome! 

Sandman, I'd forgotten Earth Science.  Isn't it fascinating that under the right conditions, the stuff we like to walk in barefoot at the beach became the pink beauty above?

JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 7 years ago from Central Oklahoma Author

Teresa, I knew what you meant about glaciers and rivers (I don't get out much either)! It's common knowledge that Kansas was once covered by a vast inland sea (and some think should've stayed that way), but the glacier was news to me. And Elena, having such a great eye for flowers and sunsets, would be the one to notice the gorgeous rock I passed right by!

JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 7 years ago from Central Oklahoma Author

Jewels, as a building material, Sioux quartzite looks pretty much like granite or limestone, only pinkish.  Here's a photo of the Federal Building in Siouz Falls: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Sioux_Falls_Fede...

JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 7 years ago from Central Oklahoma Author

Amanda, you and I must be alike when it comes to "celebrated" stones...'a rock is a rock is a rock'. But I hope you do check out the Goldstone in the park at Hove. Must be an interesting story behind it or they wouldn't have put it there.

Elena. profile image

Elena. 7 years ago from Madrid

Jama, at this time of day, 8:40pm Irish time, here's the adds that I see:

- Pink Elephant Parking: LHR, Stansted & Southampton Other airports car parks available

- Days Boulder in Boulder: Book here now and save up to 70% at the Days Boulder Hotel in Boulder

OK, I think it's safe to laugh about them, particularly the first!  :-)

FYI, I'm still thinking how to thank you for this.  I'm SO tickled!  For now, here's another beso!  :-)

Silver Freak profile image

Silver Freak 7 years ago from The state of confusion

hey Jama, great hub! Did you also know that particular grades of Pink Quarzite (also called rose quartz) are considered semi precious gems and used (a lot!) in jewelry making? it's a relively inexpensive stone that has a lovely soft glow to it. A and B grades are translucent (they almost let the light through) and C and D grades are opaque with inclusions. Can you imagine how many necklaces and earrings and bracelets could be made outta that chunk of boulder?

Whole nations of indians could have been decked out in literally tons of pink beads! If the nation went to a tangible assets economy based on gems, Kansas could be rich off that one rock! Minnesota, Iowa and South Dakota would be the new banking centers of the nation! Our economy could be saved, just by rocks! WOOHOO! LOL! Just think, when the Fed said the economy was rock steady, they might actually be telling the literal truth. *snickers*

JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 7 years ago from Central Oklahoma Author

Elena, those ads must somehow be partly tied to a reader's ISP or home region.  What I'm seeing are ads for businesses in Sioux Falls, but the one I *really* love is where to buy "Fake Rocks as seen on This Old House" (an American TV show on home renovation/restoration)!

Pink Elephant Parking at Heathrow, Stansted and Southampton?  Toooo funny!

No thanks necessary, I'm just happy you're tickled pink!  (Sorry, couldn't resist...)  Besos to you too!

Frieda Babbley profile image

Frieda Babbley 7 years ago from Saint Louis, MO

My Dave has been there. Very reminiscent of some found in Colorado. The color of this one is so gorgeous. Wonderful pictures. So glad someone took the time to care and wonder about the rock. Imagine it could have just been cut up and used with no thought to the matter.

May I say thanks Elena! You rock! (=D)

Jewels profile image

Jewels 7 years ago from Australia

I saw a photo and it looks beautiful. I was meaning energetic qualities moreso, I can get a feel for these things. You know if you work in a building made of stone, it's different to concrete and different to wood, and quartz again is a much more reflective substance. I was pondering really but if I'm ever in that area I'll be checking it out.

Christoph Reilly profile image

Christoph Reilly 7 years ago from St. Louis

I've always thought large boulders a great asset to any landscape. Wish they'd leave more of them alone instead of ripping them out of the ground. Who would have thought a hub on a big, pink rock would be so interesting!

JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 7 years ago from Central Oklahoma Author

Frieda, your Dave has been to KSHS?  Depending on what part of Colorado, the ones there could be castoffs from the same glacier.  

Jewels, I wondered about the energetic qualities too.  Quartz crystals are formed by a slightly different process, but the ingredients are basically the same, therefore the energies might similar too.  As for how a building feels inside depending on what it's made of, I've never given it much thought, but certainly will from now on.  Thanks!

Christoph, I'm with you...leave 'em where they are.  Unfortunately, it's hard to plant crops in a field thick with rocks, so they have to be ripped out of the ground.

badcompany99 7 years ago

That big bugger of a thing would deff sink my ship, whatever will you bring us next moi friend.

JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 7 years ago from Central Oklahoma Author

I dunno, BC...never do...whatever strikes me fancy. ;D

Kscharles 7 years ago

Hokay, JamaGenee, you've given us so much information and enjoyment and fun with the Pink Elephant and "Getting There is NOT.." and I KNOW

Kscharles 7 years ago

Loved your "Pink Elephant" and "Getting There is NOT.." (and your others) and know you just haven't had time to educate us on the Koch Industries Ed Center with the pink porch shown in your photos. "Koch...", etc. sounds so sterile, so boring, so modern! for what is another jewel beside KSHS! Please...refresh my memory and give us all the wonderful history of this building! I've attended the Civil War Roundtable of Eastern Kansas meetings there and it is fascinating and steeped in history!

JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 7 years ago from Central Oklahoma Author

Kscharles, I'll get right on it! If memory serves, the building is an old mission school for children of the various Indian tribes when Kansas was first settled.

MindField profile image

MindField 7 years ago from Portland, Oregon

Glad to have an answer. You know me - never satisfied until I know everything!

JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 7 years ago from Central Oklahoma Author

Kscharles, it was a mission school for Potawatomi children, but there's a lot of conflicting information about how the Potawatomis ended up here.  Still working on a hub about it.

Mindfield, I don't know that I'd want to know **everything**!  But everything about things that interest me would be fine.  ;D

Dolores Monet profile image

Dolores Monet 7 years ago from East Coast, United States

Wow, that's one rock I'm not going to steal...I mean liberate...but gosh, a huge pink rock. How cool. And beautiful.

Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 5 years ago from Houston, Texas

I love the beauty of rocks and have many in our garden picked up as souvenirs from various place...none anywhere near the size of this quartzite pink rock featured here needless-to-say...not that I wouldn't love it! Interesting hub thanks to you and also Elena wondering about it.

JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 5 years ago from Central Oklahoma Author

Peggy, I've also brought back interesting rocks from various places, but none big enough to place in a garden.

After I did this hub, btw, I began noticing these pink quartzite monsters in yards all over Topeka, along streets I'd traveled regularly for 20 years and never noticed! No idea where the people got them, maybe from a builder or landscaping company that unearthed them while excavating a basement for a new home or a swimming pool for an older one.

Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 5 years ago from Houston, Texas

I have been buying some rocks from a garden center / landscaping center and they originate from the hill country of Texas. Am bordering many of my garden beds around the house with them. They also have large "monster" rocks that they would deliver (for a charge) and place in one's yard. I am considering where one or more would fit. I LOVE rocks!

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.

    Click to Rate This Article