Van Hise Rock, located between Baraboo and Reedsburg, is named after Charles Van Hise, the former UW president and geologist, who used the stone to examine the process of mountain formation.
A video profile created by John Wanserski looks at the rock and the historical markers accompanying it. This follows below.
The rock was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1999, at which point the Wisconsin
Historical Society and State Department of Transportation placed a historical marker commemorating its role in the discipline of geology. It reads:
This outcrop of Baraboo Quartzite, located in the Baraboo Hills and known as Van Hise Rock, has been the focus of national and international scientific interest for over one hundred years. The rock is named in honor of University of Wisconsin Professor Charles R. Van Hise (1857-1918), renowned geologist, conservationist and President of the University of Wisconsin. In the 1890s, Van Hise used this outcrop to demonstrate the kinds of changes that occur in rocks during periods of mountain formation. Van Hise's observations of the Baraboo Hills would help to develop his ground-breaking concepts of structural and metamorphic geology. Later, these concepts would be universally accepted as the principles of structural geology. Van Hise Rock has become the single most important locality to demonstrate these principles. Countless geologists and students visit Van Hise Rock and the Baraboo Hills as a geologic mecca and continue to learn from this exceptionally diverse geologic laboratory.
Much more information about Van Hise Rock is available in an article published in the Summer 1999 issue of the Wisconsin Academy Review, focusing particularly upon its growing status as a landmark following the death of Van Hise in 1923. Other looks at the geology of the Baraboo region can be found in a series of aerial photographs published by the UW Geology Department, and in an online tour provided by a faculty member at UW-Green Bay.