The Mystery of Devils Tower: Unraveling the Origins of a National Monument

The Devil's Tower is an impressive 867-foot structure that stands out from the Wyoming prairie. It was the first national monument in the United States, established on September 24, 1906 by President Theodore Roosevelt. The origins of this remarkable structure have long intrigued geologists, Native Americans and casual visitors alike. What made the Devil's Tower?The simplest explanation is that Devils Tower is a mass, a small intrusive body formed by magma that cooled underground and was then exposed by erosion.

In 1907, scientists Darton and O'Hara concluded that it was an eroded remnant of a lacolite. Geologists Carpenter and Russell studied Devils Tower in the late 19th century and concluded that it was formed by an igneous intrusion. Modern geologists agree that it was formed by the intrusion of igneous material, but not in the exact way in which that process took place. Some believe that the molten rock that makes up the Tower might not have come to the surface; others are convinced that the tower is all that remains of what was once a large explosive volcano. Wooden pegs can still be seen in the tower as you walk the 1.3-mile (2.1 km) Tower Trail from Devils Tower National Monument. These columns can be found in other structures around the world, but where Devils Tower surpasses them is in their size.

As a result, the gray columns of Devils Tower began to appear as an isolated mass above the landscape. Nearly three times as tall as the Statue of Liberty, the Devil's Tower is impressive even for the most experienced travelers. The children make the sisters take the bear to the Devil's Tower and trick him into thinking that they have climbed the rock. Pohd-lohk, an elderly Kiowa man, gave Scott Momaday (Kiowa) the name Tsoai-talee (Boy from the Tree of the Rocks), and related him to the myth of the bear in the Devil's Tower. Wooden Leg, a Cheyenne from the north, told another legend that an old man told him when they were traveling together through the Devil's Tower between 1866 and 1868. As rain and snow continue to erode the sedimentary rocks surrounding the base of the Tower, more of Devils Tower will be exposed.

Almost everyone agrees that Devils Tower was made of molten rock or magma, but that's where certainties end and fun begins. The mystery of Devils Tower continues to captivate visitors from around the world.

Roxanne Cotner
Roxanne Cotner

Incurable music nerd. Amateur pop culture specialist. General internet aficionado. Unapologetic web lover. Hipster-friendly bacon fanatic.