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Wisconsin National Register of Historic Places

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Point of Rocks (R. Dott photo, 2009)

Point of Rocks (R. Dott photo, 2009)

Point of Rocks
US Highway 12 north of Ski Hi Road, Town of Baraboo, Sauk County

Point of Rocks is a natural outcropping of Baraboo Quartzite located on the east side of Highway 12. It is part of the southernmost extensive exposures of Precambrian Rock in Wisconsin and has been studied for more than a century by geologists. This rock unit is about 4000 feet thick and was deposited approximately 1.7 billion years ago during the Precambrian era.

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, pioneering geologists used rock outcroppings in the Baraboo District to make observations regarding geological processes that led to the development of significant theories regarding metamorphism, and Precambrian and structural geology. Together with Van Hise Rock and two or three other key localities, Point of Rocks played a key role in the interpretation of the major structural features of the metamorphosed Precambrian rocks of the entire Baraboo District.

The pioneering geologists included Roland Irving, Charles R. Van Hise, Charles K. Leith, and Warren J. Mead, all of whom were affiliated with the Geology Department at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. As a result of their contributions, their Department became nationally and internationally renowned in the early twentieth century as the "Wisconsin School of Precambrian Geology." The University of Wisconsin systems' faculty has used the Point of Rocks outcrop as well as Van Hise Rock to demonstrate important structural and metamorphic properties of rocks to their many students and colleagues. The outcrop is regularly visited by other universities as well, and is a specific point of interest in professional geological field guidebooks.

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