Hours of Idleness-A Photographer's Journey in St. Louis

Interlude: Elephant Rocks State Park

Posted in art, Hike, Jason Gray, learning, photography, Uncategorized by Jason Gray on April 11, 2016

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Spring and Fall are my family’s favorite seasons to hike in Missouri, so we’ve been hitting as many as we can while the weather holds out.  Elephant Rocks State Park near Ironton is one of the State’s most beautiful (and popular).

“Interludes” are the posts in-between the posts that this site focuses on, and provide me with an opportunity to share things that I find interesting. They are not archived like the core posts.

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A great description from the Park’s Teacher’s Guide:

“Elephant Rocks State Park is located along Highway 21, four miles north of Pilot Knob, Mo. The park consists of 131 acres, seven of which are designated as a Missouri State Natural Area. The most prominent features of the park are the large, rounded, pink colored granite boulders, locally called ‘the Elephant Rocks.’

The Elephant Rocks are on a tor (a small isolated rocky hill). Visitors to this geologic feature may view an exhibit on the history of the area and take a mile-long hike on the asphalt trail through the Elephant Rocks. There are picnic tables and grills beside the parking lot, with water fountains, bathrooms and a small playground area located nearby.

On the trail there are informational plaques that fully describe what visitors encounter. These 23 markers are also written in Braille. Elephant Rocks State Park is the only Missouri state park that offers a Braille trail for visually handicapped visitors. The Braille markers are accompanied with tactile displays.”


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Below are traces of the quarry workers’ presence.

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On the origin of the granite boulders, from the Missouri State Park site:

“The formation of this extraordinary herd of elephants began during the Precambrian era about 1.5 billion years ago. Molten rock, called magma, accumulated deep below the earth’s surface. The magma slowly cooled, forming red granite rock. As the weight of the overlying rock was removed by erosion, horizontal and vertical cracks developed, fracturing the massive granite into huge, angular blocks. Water permeated down through the fractures, and groundwater rounded the edges and corners of the blocks while still underground, forming giant rounded masses. Erosion eventually removed the disintegrated material from along the fractures, and exposed these boulders at the earth’s surface.”

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2 Responses

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  1. Nancy Gelb said, on October 14, 2016 at 7:18 pm

    Jason, I’m really enjoying your interludes, both the photos and your narrative. We’ll bump some of these locations up on our bucket list.
    Thanks from a former STLCC student

  2. Jason Gray said, on October 14, 2016 at 7:21 pm

    Thank you Nancy! I hope all is well.

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