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HPPR Arts, Culture & History

Western Kansas' Monument Rocks featured on Smithsonian Channel's 'Aerial America'

Kansas Geological Survey

Some of Kansas’s lesser known wonders are being featured on the Smithsonian Channel's 'Aerial America.’

One of those wonders is the chalk towers in western Kansas, featured in a four-minute video on the Smithsonian Channel's website, which describes how they were formed.

According to the video, the badlands, located in Gove County, were under a vast, inland sea where billions of creatures lived, died and left their bodies on the ocean floor in ancient layers of chalk.

As the sea retreated, most of the chalk was washed away but towers of chalk, called the Monument Rocks, were left behind.

The video describes them as “impressive monoliths” that tower the plains “as seemingly eternal reminders of the state’s vast geological past, but because of their chalky makeup, the monument rocks, including an outcropping named Castle Rock by frontier scout Julian Finch in 1865 that drivers, pioneers and hikers have used over the past 150 years to guide their path.

Castle Rock and the other chalk towers and canyons are slowly being eroded away by the wind and rain.

The website also features 10 images of Kansas that tell a story about the state, including bison that roam on the prairie, the state's agricultural economy, wind farms, field patterns created by pivot-point irrigation systems and the state’s aviation history, to name a few.

Other short videos on the website are about farming and wind farms.