Devils Tower is a monolithic (volcanic neck) structure located in the Black Hills, near Hulett and Sundance in Crook County, northeast of Wyoming, near the Belle Fourche River, USA.
It rises spectacularly to 386m above the surrounding terrain with a peak located at 1 558m above sea level. The enigmatic wonder of nature is the first national monument in the United States, declared on September 24, 1906 by President Theodore Roosevelt.
The breathtaking landscape surrounding the Devil’s Tower consists mainly of sedimentary rocks. Of these, the oldest visible at the National Monument were in a shallow sea 225 to 195 million years ago.
The first ascent by the known man of the Devils Tower was made in 1893 by William Rogers and Willard Ripley. During the survey, they observed a narrow vertical crack that had opened from the ground to the top. So they took advantage of this spot on the rock to use wooden boards to build a staircase. The staircase could be used until 1927, and still today, one can see the vestiges of it.
Credit : Colin Faulkingham (Wikimédia)
According to the legends of the Kiowa and Sioux Lakhota Amerindian tribes, in the distant past, young girls were playing outside when suddenly giant bears began to hunt them down. In an effort to escape the bears, the girls climbed a rock, knelt down and prayed to the Great Spirit to save them. Hearing their prayers, the Great Spirit made the rock grow from Earth to heaven so that the bears could not reach the girls.
The bears, in their attempt to climb the rock, which had become far too steep to climb, left claw marks on the sides of the once “smooth” rock. When the girls reached heaven, they became the constellation of the Pleiades.
Another Sioux legend tells that two Sioux boys would have moved away from their village when a powerful bear started chasing them, wanting to make the two young men his breakfast. As the bear approached the boys and was about to catch them, they prayed to Wakan Tanka (“the sacred” or “the divine”, the Great Spirit) to save them from the bear.
They then climbed a rock while the bear was desperately trying to climb on it and catch the two boys. However, the bear failed to climb the rock and left huge marks on the side of it, formed by its huge claws. Mato, the name given to the bear, eventually gave up and fell asleep in a place now known as Bear Butte, not far from the rock.
Later, Wanblee, an eagle, rescued the boys and helped them from the massive rock, bringing them back to their village.
In modern times, the Devil’s Tower was used in the film”Close Encounters of the Third Kind” in 1977.
Curiously, as in many other places in the area, tourists and residents have repeatedly reported the appearance of strange lights in the sky just above the enigmatic rock formation. Some even claim that these lights even land on the top of the massive rock.
Front page image credit: Cheri’ Glenn (Wikimedia) – modified by Hellystar.