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What in the world is a gooseneck? When it comes to describing a landform, fowl play (pun intended) may seem apparent. Even when you are standing in front of one, the answer is not obvious. Not until you get a look from above does this name start to make sense.
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- Teacher’s Corner
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- New Publications
Near the town of Echo in northern Utah is a cluster of reddish-brown natural monuments called The Witches (also known as Witch Rocks, Witches Rocks, Witch Bluffs, or Witches Bluffs), composed of the Echo Canyon Conglomerate.
In 1858, army Captain Albert Tracy described them in his journal as “witch-like” and “so singularly like figures in kirtles [long skirts] and steeple-hats, or bonnets that they have received the appellation [Witch Rocks]”. By using your imagination (and perhaps squinting a bit), you can picture a coven of witches in long robes and witches’ hats standing on the hillside.
Nearby Echo Canyon has long been used as a main thoroughfare between southern Wyoming and northern Utah, first by Native Americans, fur trappers, and explorers, then by wagon trains on their way to Salt Lake City or other points west. Before the interstate highway, passengers on the Overland Stage and then the Union Pacific Railroad also made their way through the canyon.
At the town of Echo, the canyon opens into the Henefer Valley where most of these travelers rested and marveled at the unusual rock formations, some even drawing sketches or taking photographs of The Witches.
Geologic Information: The Devil seems to have inspired many geographic place names. According to the U.S. Board on Geographic Names, 34 geographic features bear the name Devils Kitchen, and three of them are found in Utah. The Devils Kitchen that is the subject of this “GeoSights” article is a relatively small (about 700 feet across) south-facing amphitheater exposing redrock hoodoos at the head of Red Creek in the Wasatch Range, about 14 road miles northeast of the town of Nephi in Juab County.
About 60 to 70 million years ago the rock at Devils Kitchen was gravel, sand, and mud deposited by streams flowing out of a now-long-gone mountain range. Continuing deposition resulted in deep burial which, coupled with deep time, compressed and cemented the sediment, transforming it into rock.
With its red hoodoos, Devils Kitchen looks a bit like a miniature Bryce Canyon. The mineral hematite (iron oxide) creates the red color.
Beginning roughly 17 million years ago, movement of the Wasatch fault slowly uplifted the Wasatch Range, with Devils Kitchen along for the ride. The rise of the Wasatch Range empowered erosion to excavate and expose the rock we see today.