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Devils Tower Facts

Theodore Roosevelt

Devils Tower Facts: Theodore Roosevelt was the 26th American President who served in office from September 14, 1901 to March 4, 1909. One of the important events during his presidency was the proclamation of Devils Tower as the nation's first National Monument.

Definition and Summary of the Devils Tower Facts
Summary and definition:
The Devils Tower has a special place in U.S. history as the nation's first National Monument. During the Progressive Movement many Americans became concerned about protecting the environment and the Conservation Movement emerged.

President Roosevelt, an ardent Conversationalist, sponsored the National Monuments Act, which was passed on June 8, 1906. The Devils Tower was the first monument to be preserved because of its historic, prehistoric, and scientific interest.

Devils Tower History Facts: FAQ's (Frequently asked Questions)
Fast, fun facts about the Devils Tower and its history for kids:

Where is the Devils Tower? Its location is in the Black Hills near Hulett and Sundance, Crook County, northeastern Wyoming

Why is it called the Devils Tower? the interpreter for Colonel Richard Irving Dodge's expedition misinterpreted the Native American name to mean "Bad God's Tower", which was later shortened to the Devil's Tower

How was it formed? Geology: From molten rock (magma or cooled lava) forced upwards from deep within the earth

What is on top of the Devils Tower? Vegetation, chipmunks and small rodents are found on top

What movie was the Devils Tower in? The 1977 movie 'Close Encounters of the Third Kind' starring Richard Dreyfuss

How tall is the Devils Tower? It is 867 feet from its base to the summit and takes 4 to six hours to climb

How far is it around the Tower? The circumference at the base is 1 mile.

Devils Tower Facts and Info for kids: Devils Tower Legend
According to Native American Indian legend, the Devils Tower was created when six young girls of the tribe were picking flowers in the forest when they were chased by terrifying bears. In order to save their lives of the young Sioux girls, the Great Spirit lifted the ground and formed the giant rock underneath their feet. The furious bears tried to climb the rock and left their scratch marks along the side of the monument. The legend continued and tells of an eagle lifting the girls off the monument and took them back to the safety of their village.

Devils Tower Facts and Info for kids: Brief Facts for kids via the Fact Sheet
Interesting description and brief facts about the Devils Tower are detailed in the following Fact Sheet.

The awe-inspiring monument is located in the State of Wyoming, near the Belle Fourche River in Crook County

What is it made of? Geology: It is made of phonolite porphyry and the monument is believed to be the remnant of a volcanic neck.

  • Others believe the phonolite porphyry is the remnant of a laccolith (a dome-shaped, irregular formation of intrusive igneous rock found between layers of sedimentary rock.

    • Igneous rock is formed through the cooling and solidification of magma or lava

    • Sedimentary rock is formed by the deposition of material at the Earth's surface

The Devils Tower is 867 feet from its base to the summit

It towers above the Fourche River and stands as the most widely recognized landmark of the northern Great Plains.

Colors: The colors of the shale, siltstone and sandstone range from  red, yellow, gray, and green. Parts of the slopes are colored with white gypsum

The Monument's boundary encloses an area of 1,347 acres

Elevation: The summit of the Devils Tower is 1,560 m (5,117 ft) above sea level

The top of the monument measures 55 m (180 ft) from east to west and 91 m (300 ft) from north to south and rises about 386 m (1,267 ft) above the Belle Fourche River

When was the Devils Tower formed? Geology: Erosion has removed the Paleozoic and Mesozoic rock layers from the central dome, exposing Precambrian rocks that make up the core of the uplift. The ages of periods are as follows:

  • The Precambrian Era is 4540 to 544 million years ago

  • The Paleozoic Era is 542 To 251 million years ago

  • The Mesozoic Era is 251 To 65.5 million years ago

The historic site attracts about 500,000 visitors and tourists every year - about 1% are brave enough to make the climb

The Devils Tower Monument is a popular climbing destination. The first successful rock climb, using mountaineering techniques, was in 1937

The Devils Tower is now a famous site for crack climbing. There are over 200 named routes, the most famous being the Durrance Route.

The Durrance Route is named after Jack Durrance who led a group of climbers to the top in 1941 to rescue George Hopkins, who had parachuted onto the summit as a stunt

The National Park Service warns climbers that they might encounter hazards such as snakes, poison ivy, falcon attacks, spiny plants, wasps and falling rocks.

It is illegal to excavate, relocate, and/or remove fossils from the Devils Tower monument. Over 600 metal bolts had been embedded in the rock by climbers, some climbing ropes have been left hanging. In 1995 the fixture of new bolts was banned, although replacement of existing bolts and fixed pitons are still allowed

Due to its religious and cultural significance to Native American Indians a voluntary rock climbing closure is in effect every June.

The Movie: 'Close Encounters of the Third Kind' was the movie that strongly featured the Devils Tower in its plot:

  • The movie was released in 1977

  •  'Close Encounters of the Third Kind' was written and directed by Steven Spielberg

  • The movie starred Richard Dreyfuss, Melinda Dillon and Teri Garr

  • In December 2007, the movie was selected by the United States Library of Congress for preservation in the National Film Registry and deemed as "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant"

  • In American polls Close Encounters has been voted the 64th greatest movie of all time

History: The first inhabitants of the area date back 3000 to 4000 years although Paleo-Indians were thought to have lived in the area as far back as 10,000 years

History: Native American Indian tribes have lived in the region for nearly 1000 years

History: The monument is sacred to many Native American Plains Indian tribes including the Assiniboine, Kiowa, Sioux, Blackfeet, Salish, Cheyenne, Crow, Shoshone, Arapaho and Chippewa.

The monument features strongly in the creation history of many Native American tribes

The monument is sacred to many Native American Plains Indian tribes including the Assiniboine, Kiowa, Sioux, Blackfeet, Salish, Cheyenne, Crow, Shoshone, Arapaho and Chippewa.

  • The Lakota Sioux traditionally held their sacred Sun Dance at Devils Tower around the summer solstice

  • Vision Quests were often undertaken in this sacred place

  • Sacred fasting rituals and healing ceremonies were also conducted

  • Prayer offerings, funerals and sweat lodge ceremonies also took place near the sacred site

History: In 1875, Colonel Richard Dodge led a U.S. Geological Survey expedition to the area. His interpreter misunderstood the Native American’s description of the feature and translated it as “Bad God’s Tower.”

History: In 1890 the Conservation Movement advocated the establishment of state parks, wildlife refuges and national monuments during the Progressive Era.

History: In 1893, William Rogers and Willard Ripley climbed to the top of the tower using 30 inch wooden stakes that they had hammered into a ontinuous crack that led to the summit. Portions of the stake ladder made by William Rogers and Willard Ripley are still visible from the Tower Trail

History: In 1901 Theodore Roosevelt, who was an ardent conservationist, became President of the United States and was instrumental in protecting natural features of America

History: In 1905: Gifford Pinchot (1865–1946), was appointed the first chief of the U.S. Forest Service, who believed that natural resources should be used to provide the "greatest good for the greatest number of people."

History: In 1906: President Roosevelt signed legislation for the National Monuments Act ( Antiquities Act) that authorized the President to establish national monuments for the preservation of historic, prehistoric, and scientific interest

History: On September 24, 1906 the Devils Tower was proclaimed as the nation's first National Monument.

History: When the presidential proclamation was made establishing Devils Tower and published, the apostrophe was unintentionally dropped from the word 'Devil’s' and this clerical error was never officially corrected.

History: In 1917 the first road was built to the monument

History: On August 19, 1994 six year old Eric Peterson became the youngest person to climb the Devils Tower

US American History
1881-1913: Maturation Era
Environmentalism History
Conservation Movement

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