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How Long Will Chimney Rock Last?

Gloom and doom predictions have always accompanied descriptions of Chimney Rock. Erosion created it; erosion will undoubtedly destroy it. No one knows how much time will pass before the spire disappears.

You make the call. Here is visual evidence - a trail-era drawing, old photographs, a recent snapshot, the rock itself - from which you can decide. Is Chimney Rock getting shorter?


"It is the opinion of Mr. Bridger that it was reduced to its present height by lightning, or some other sudden catastrophe, as he found it broken on his return from one of his trips to St. Louis, though he had passed it uninjured on his way down".

-- As told to Howard Stansbury in 1849 by mountain man Jim Bridger.
(Of course, this is the same Jim Bridger who told of the petrified trees
in Yellowstone, with petrified birds in them singing petrified songs!)

1853, Frederick Piercy drawing

Frederick Piercy, who drew this view, saw Chimney Rock in 1853. He portrayed its column as tall and rectangular.


In 1929 Emil Kopac of Oshkosh, Nebraska, captured Chimney Rock from the north side as did Piercy.
The rock appeared more pointed, less like a "chimney."


By the 1930s the sodhouse which appears in these photographs was abandoned.

sod house, 1977

Though covered by concrete, the sodhouse had fallen into ruin by 1977. What changes do you notice in Chimney Rock?

  These fallen fragments of Chimney Rock were found by Gordon Howard of Bayard.



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Last updated 30 July 2003 

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