9.1.17

THE SOURCE OF THE PINK LADY.

For years, the observant ferroequinologist could identify Chicago and North Western tracks by the pink quartzite ballast that was quarried near North Freedom, Wisconsin.


There's a bit of Pink Lady mixed in here, the front yard of the Mid-Continent Railway Museum at North Freedom.

With the Union Pacific takeover, the remaining tracks are being reballasted, maintenance requirements permitting, with Union Pacific standard ballast.  The quarry is in a geologically significant area that is now a state natural area.
The trail starts on the west side of Highway 136, just north of Rock Springs. There's a small parking area on the east side of the highway next to an artesian well that local residents still use.

To join up with the trail, cross the road and skirt the gate. Follow the trail spur to the left to travel up to the base of the cliff. Look for the remnants of an old quarry blast shelter before following the trail back to the main trail, which continues along the cliff face past another small blast shelter and ends back at the highway across from another small wayside.

The wayside marks Van Hise Rock, a rock monolith that was designated a National Historical Landmark in 1997. The quartzite outcrop is a perfect, compact model of the geological forces that were at work in the area, and is named for former University of Wisconsin professor and president Charles Van Hise, who used it to prove his theories of structural and metamorphic geology. Those concepts would become the principles of structural geology.
The trails are unimproved, without railings in places that are slippery when wet. Better to do your exploring in the summer, but be alert for rattlesnakes.

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