Nowadays it is easy for the whole family, hopefully except for the driver, to focus on smart phone apps and cell phone and email conversations while on family outings instead of the country one is passing through. If you do that just south of Dubois, Wyoming you would be making a terrible mistake. No, not in terms of the Highway Patrol pulling you over since Highway 26 is very lightly patrolled. Its the rock formations that are so strikingly beautiful. It is called the Chugwater Formation. The derivation of the name “Chugwater” it seems came from the the indians running Buffalo over the cliffs (hence “Buffalo jumps”) and the “chug” sound they made during death throws in the Wind River below. Life was not easy way back then. Anyway, the name stuck. The formations south of what is now Dubois was exposed by the rambling Wind River eroding through eons of sedimentary rock dating back millions of years to the Paleozoic and mesozoic time periods.
During the Cretaceous time, again millions of years ago, much of central Wyoming consisted of inland seas. Marine fossils are everywhere, left exposed and within the sedimentary layers of rock. The geology of the area is fascinating. What you see in the Print of the Month picture is a portion of the Chugwater formation, characterized by a brick red color (lots of iron) overlain by a layer of soft, high quality gypsum (a hydrated sulfate of calcium) and over the millennia since the harder rock was laid down that gypsum has precipitated through a lot of the formation interrupting the red rock with white veins in a stratified sequence. You have to admit it is quite striking and well worth delaying that email answer or cell phone call to enjoy. Life is short….get out and enjoy mother nature!
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