Wednesday, October 8, 2014

FFTD Bonus: Elephant Rocks

Years ago our family would drive south from St. Louis to Elephant Rocks, a magical state Park one-half mile west of Graniteville, Missouri. We would scamper around the huge granite boulders breaking up into teams to play hide and seek "war games". After cooking hot dogs on the grill for lunch we would go for a swim in a quarry lake and come back home after dark. Often Jan's sisters family would join us for the fun.
Geologically the area is called a "tor" and consists of rounded weathered granite boulders sitting on bedrock granite. It is formed from an outcropping of granite in the St. Francois Mountains which is in a range of Pre Cambrian igneous rock rising over the Ozark Plateau.
It was formed by volcanic and intrusive activity 1.485 billion years ago. Compare this with the Appalchians formed 460 million years ago
and the Rocky Mountains formed 140 million years ago. These mountains have never been submerged existing as an island archipelago
in the Paleozoic seas. Alkaline granite here was formed in the Proterozoic period 1500 million years ago from a dome of molten magma.
Vertical fractures formed in the stone with cooling. The overlying strata were removed through erosion exposing the granite dome. Weather and erosion expanded the fracture joints and produced the rounded boulders of crystalline red granite or tors. The granite has been commercially quarried here since 1869.

It was interesting to see the changes in the many years since we were last here. It is now a more formalized state park with rules to decrease the freedoms we loved in the past. Trees are now growing from cracks in the granite but the amazing boulders cannot be ruined by the intrusion of the state. The tors are still huge and the opportunity for play is exciting still. The large quarry lake is off limits
to all I suspect except the locals.


In early July this year we came with Gordon and sons Blake, Adam, and Will who were all suitably impressed. They clambered around, over, under and between the rocks with abandon.

With his diminutive size Will could go anywhere in the granite labyrinth.

Blake was more into climbing the elevations.

Adam was everywhere.

About noon we decided it was time to go in search of lunch which we found surprisingly in a grocery store deli in Ironton.

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