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Goc, Michael J. / From past to present : the history of Adams County

Natural resources,   pp. 8-11 PDF (3.5 MB)

Page 8

Houghton Rock, 
Town of Adams. 
Page: "The 
Hole in the 
Rock" on 
remnants of rock 
formed by 
ancient seas 
hundreds of 
millions of years 
ago. (Courtesy, 
H.H. Bennett 
Studio Founda- 
Whe natural resources of Adams 
County were shaped by wind, 
water, earth and hundreds of millions 
of years of time. The soil underlying the county 
was formed in layers of sediment beneath an 
ancient sea. The material forming these layers 
varied from coarse sand to fine clay to lime-rich 
shells of living creatures, all of which fused into 
In time the sea drained, leaving a flat plain 
subject to erosion by wind and water. In the course 
of millions of years, the softer layers of stone 
eroded away, but the harder stone remained. These 
deposits of harder stone became the bluffs and 
mounds still present in Adams County today. They 
also form the "Dells" of the Wisconsin River, 
much of which is in Adams County. The oldest 
surface rock in the county is the quartzite at 
Dyracuse Rock in Rome and Hamilton Bluffs in 
Leola both about 500 million years old. Friend- 
ship, Roche-A-Cri, Quincy, Rattlesnake and 
Elephant rocks are a little younger, only about 300 
million years. 
In more recent times, merely tens of thousands 
of years ago, Adams County was beneath the 
waters of a vast freshwater lake formed by the 
melting of the Ice Age glaciers which halted their 
advance across Wisconsin on the eastern edge of 
the county. Now the mounds and bluffs--already 
hundreds of millions of years old--were islands in 
a lake which extended from Coloma to Black 
River Falls and from Stevens Point to Devils Lake. 
About 14,000 years ago, a dam of ice south of 
what is now Wisconsin Dells gave way and glacial 
Lake Wisconsin drained. In a matter of weeks, 
water poured down the bed of the Wisconsin 
River, cutting and shaping the gorges and rock 
formations of the Dells. In Adams County water 
levels dropped one hundred feet or more and the 
flat, sandy lakebed began to dry out. Streams 
formed, most of them running from the still 
melting glacier on the east of the county to the 
river on the west. Extensive wetlands remained 
throughout the county, especially in the future 
towns of Colburn and Leola, but also in Adams, 
Easton and Quincy. Soil began to form, plants to 
grow, wildlife to appear. 
The glacier whose meltwater formed Lake 
Wisconsin began its retreat about 12,000 years 
ago. The line where its advance halted--the 

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