Speak of the Devil

Steven Dutch, Professor Emeritus, Natural and Applied Sciences, University of Wisconsin - Green Bay

I've always found it interesting that Americans profess to believe that God created everything and will rail against evolution, but tend to name most remarkable landforms after the devil. Here are a few. There are far too many to list completely.

Devil's Tower, Wyoming

Devil's Tower, Wyoming A small intrusion, best known as the locale for the finale of Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

Devil's Gate, Wyoming

../devil's Gate, Wyoming Devil's Gate is a remarkable example of superposed or antecedent drainage. The Sweetwater River cuts a narrow 100-meter deep slot through a granite ridge, yet had it flowed less than a kilometer to the south, it could have bypassed the ridge completely. The gorge was cut because the landscape was originally buried by valley fill sediments. The river cut downward and when it hit granite, kept on cutting. It was a matter of pure chance that the river hit the buried ridge where it did. This was a prominent landmark on the Oregon Trail.

Devil's Postpile, California

A small lava flow with remarkably regular columnar jointing and wonderful glacial polish on the top.

Devil's Slide, Utah

On I-84 southeast of Ogden

Devil's Lake, Wisconsin

So named because the lake has no outlets and anything subterranean tends to be associated with the Devil. The lake occupies a deep canyon in the Baraboo hills, dammed at both ends by glacial moraines. The panorama below shows both moraines. Despite the name, this has long been a favorite recreation spot and is now a state park.

Devil's Island, Wisconsin

No, not the infamous French penal colony, made famous by Steve McQueen and Dustin Hoffman in Papillon, but the northernmost of the Apostle Islands in Wisconsin. In fact, the point nearest the camera here is the northernmost point in Wisconsin.

Devil's Slide, Montana

A smooth slope of easily eroded red siltstone located just a few miles north of Yellowstone National Park.

Mount Diablo, California

This 3849 foot isolated peak is located in the Coast Ranges east of San Francisco and on a clear day offers a spectacular view that literally takes in half of California. The meridian and base line for the survey grid that covers most of California and all of Nevada intersect on the summit. The summit tower is just visible at far right.

Geologically, this is a remarkable structure, a plug of metamorphic rocks pushed upward through overlying sedimentary rocks. This is not an igneous structure nor, contrary to widespread local misconception, is it an extinct volcano.

The origin of the name is unclear but most of the stories revolve around early Spanish explorers being frightened by an Indian shaman in full regalia.

Devil's Garden, Utah

Arches National Park This area includes some of the most famous arches of Arches National Park.

Devil's Gulch, South Dakota

Devil's Gulch, South Dakota A narrow cleft in the Sioux Quartzite north of Sioux Falls. According to tradition, Jesse James once jumped his horse across the chasm to escape a posse.

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Created 03 December 2003, Last Update 10 June 2020