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Wisconsin National Register of Historic Places

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Van Hise Rock
State Highway 136, Rock Springs, Sauk County

Van Hise Rock is located in the Baraboo Range, 700 to 800 feet high hills that are of the remains of an ancient mountain chain that may have risen 1000 to 1600 feet above the surrounding plain. This monolith is an erosional remnant standing nearly 14 feet high and 6 feet wide. It is composed of two main vertical layers, pink quartzite and phyllitic quartzite. These two layers show evidence of cross bedding. Ripplemarks indicate the top of the original bedding.

Van Hise Rock was named for the pre-eminent 19th century geologist Charles Richard Van Hise. Van Hise became the student of the eminent geologist Roland Irving. Together they became the first Americans to conduct petrographic studies, and use new techniques to formulate important geological principles. They were also the first to study ancient crystalline rocks found in many mountain regions of the world, especially in Northern Wisconsin. Van Hise fully understood the complex structural geology of the area. He established the fundamental principles of structural geology, metamorphism and Precambrian rocks.

Van Hise Rock played a key role in the history of geology as Charles Van Hise used this remnant to interpret the major structural features of the metamorphosed Precambrian rocks of the entire Wisconsin River Valley, or Baraboo District. It has long served and continues to serve as a hands-on field laboratory for professional geologists and students.

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