The following is part of KRCC's 'Peak Past' essay series.
I’m no geologist but I can’t help myself when I come across a pretty piece of pearly white quartz or a silver-flecked hunk of granite. I scoop ‘em up without hesitation. I end up carrying home piles of rocks.
Rocks rock. It’s a fact. It’s science. Did you know we’ve got a billion-year-old clock here in Colorado Springs, and it’s made of rock?
It’s actually an outdoor geology lesson… a series of layers of different types of rock. These can happen naturally, like the stony layers in the Grand Canyon.
Or they can be built by people.
Ours was built in 1907, and looks a like a giant, sliced-open layer cake—if the cake had ten flavors and each flavor was instead several tons of rock.
As with a lot of things around the Pikes Peak region, the column has its origins with Colorado Springs’ founder William Jackson Palmer. He hired Edmond van Diest to oversee Monument Valley Park’s construction, and van Diest brought on Colorado College geology professor George Finley to create the outdoor geology lesson.
The first layer is Pikes Peak Granite. It’s over a billion years old. At that time there were no plants or animals, the Earth’s land was one enormous supercontinent known as Rodinia, and the planet spun so fast the days were only 18 hours long.
The fifth layer is Lyons Sandstone. It’s 275 million years old, and is the same rock that makes up the spines and spires of the Garden of the Gods.
This is our deep history, our deepest history, and it is awesome to think about.
Until our next mountainside chat — be good, be well, and no matter what, climb on.
Peak Past (formerly Peak Perspectives) is a weekly segment written and voiced by Matt Cavanaugh, a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army and a resident of Manitou Springs where he lives with his wife and two young children. Through his writing, Cavanuagh explores life in the Pikes Peak region, including the gradients and subtleties of our lives in the shadow of America's Mountain.
You can find more work by Cavanaugh here.
KRCC's Abigail Beckman manages the "Peak Past" series. The opinions expressed in this publication are those of the authors. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of KRCC or Colorado Public Radio.
Peak Past is sponsored by Pueblo Recycle Works and Gold Hill Mesa.