Grackle & Sun

Daytrips: Elephant Rocks

Husband is on vacation, and we’ve been taking day trips out of the city.  Last week we went to Elephant Rocks State Park and Johnson Shut-Ins which are located just outside of Ironton, MO, in one of the most scenic areas of the state.  Nearby is Taum Sauk Mountain, the highest point in Missouri, and the Mark Twain National Forest.  I love the Ozarks.

If one will please allow me a brief moment to both bemoan the fact that my real camera died some time back and also to apologize for the shite quality of my phone camera… (me bemoaning silently)…  Thank you.  I feel a little better now.

Elephant Rocks was the site of two granite quarries in the eighteen and nineteen hundreds, and the evidence of this history is still viewable today in the engravings the quarrymen left in the rocks, the marks from core testing, the shards of granite left in piles, and of course, the quarry now filled with water.   The granite mined from here was sent all over the country for fine building, and much of it can be seen in St. Louis.  The stones that you see in these photos were spared from being quarried because they were exposed, and millennia of weathering made them too soft to use for building.  I’m glad.  It would have been criminal to destroy this amazing geological wonder.  The rocks here date from the pre-cambrian age—some 1.5 million years ago.   Although this land is now a state park, granite mining still continues very close by on adjacent properties.  Here are some photos of Elephant Rocks.  No photos of the Shut-Ins, as it was all swimming and climbing over wet rocks.  Good times.  Enjoy.

Elephant Rocks

Bigger than they look

For scale, Husband is 6’1″.

There are lots of off-the-pathway paths through the nooks and crannies and chinks in the rocks here. You have to be comfortable with both climbing, jumping and squeezing to get around anywhere off the paved trail.

My son, the mountain goat.

The biggest one of all, aptly named Dumbo, is 27 feet tall, 35 feet long and 17 feet wide.  At a weight of 162 pounds per cubic foot, Dumbo tips the scales at a hefty 680 tons.  It looks precariously perched, but it’s not going anywhere.

 

For scale, daughter is 5’3″.

Up high, beautiful view.

Drill marks from the hand-drills used to cut away the stones.

Miners carved their names into the rocks. This is E.W. Taylor.

H. Kaye.

Dan. Hearley.

C. Hay and G.M. Hay and others.

When my husband was a teen, it was common (and cool) for kids to jump into the quarry to swim. That’s not allowed now, go figure. I’ve heard it’s because of the snakes…

Looking into the water-filled quarry.

Elephant Rocks has an amazing crop of interesting lichens and mosses, too.  I find these beautiful and fascinating.

gorgeous lichen

Moss!

Mushroom!

And hiding deep in the woods was the old engine house. We didn’t even know this was here.

The rails for the engine are still there.

Even the trees grow around the granite at Elephant Rocks.

 

Elephant Rocks rocks!

 

The end.

Now go out and see the world!

:D

 

 

 

 

 

 

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6 thoughts on “Daytrips: Elephant Rocks

  1. What a great post! I read it first thing this morning and felt like I had already accomplished something for the day, and that I had had a mini-vacation too. I love the mix of nature and history, large-scale and small-scale photos.

  2. Haven’t those rocks got some stories to tell!

  3. You know, I have been going. To elephant rocks ALL my life and haven’t ever found the engine house!!! Now when the weather breaks I will have to go over there and find it!! I grew up in the area and went to elephant rocks all the time, even swam in the quarry!! Great times they were!!!

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