Sometimes rocks form in unique ways and that get even more unique during the long weathering process, as if an artist sculpted it on purpose. One remarkable example is a rock outcropping called Elephant Trunk Rock, an eye-catcher right along Wisconsin Highway 58 in Richland County.
This being Wisconsin’s gorgeous and complex Driftless Area, interesting rock formations are found all over. But none are shaped so remarkably true to an elephant’s head and trunk, which acts as a support for the rock above. To give this outcropping the very literal name of “Elephant Trunk Rock” was a no-brainer.
Elephants haven’t had exclusive domain to this rock’s name, however. A local 1935 newspaper noted the rock’s name as “The Devil’s Hitching Post,” tying it into a story about a man on a black horse apparently designed to frighten children in the area at the time. Fortunately, that name hasn’t stuck.
While rock solid, Elephant Trunk Rock was almost blasted into oblivion in 1923. Today’s Highway 58 was a rutty, winding dirt road and, in the opinion on one Peter Reutten – who happened to own the property the rock sat on – straightening the road properly meant dynamiting Elephant Trunk Rock out of the way. Arguments were made in court and significant opposition from neighbors and the State Highway Commission preserved the formation, which was immediately labeled with a sign in front of it once the improved highway, built with a gentle bend at this landmark, was completed. Highway 58 remains today a road that comes close to the rock (really close!), but offers a stop for you to pull aside and admire it. A cemented cairn made of stone was constructed to help support the bottom of the elephant’s trunk; otherwise, it remains as original.
There’s also a formation named Elephant Trunk Rock in Taiwan, but this one right along the road in Wisconsin’s Driftless Region is so much more accessible!
You’ll find Elephant Trunk Rock along Wisconsin Highway 58 in Richland County, about three miles north of Ithaca. It’s about seven miles north of U.S. 14 near Richland Center and two miles south of Highway 154. It’s definitely an Instagram-worthy stop on your State Trunk Tour travels!
Elephant Trunk Rock Address: