Elena's Quartzite Pink Elephant at KSHS
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.
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!
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'?
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...