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MARKER DATABASE
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Near Custer in Custer County, South Dakota — The American Midwest (Upper Plains)
 

The Needles Eye

One Rock Formation Offers Millions of Stories

 
 
The Needles Eye Marker image. Click for full size.
By William J. Toman, August 9, 2010
1. The Needles Eye Marker
Inscription. Geology provides the foundation of scenery in the Black Hills. From rocky outcroppings to towering spires, the northern portion of Custer State Park highlights the essence of the central core.

The central core is a region of rocks mainly composed of granite. This area is also home to some of the oldest rocks in North America, dating over two billion years in age. Formed underground and now exposed at the surface, the Black Hills region features a dome-like mass of resistant rocks.

The Black Hills Are an Island in the Plains
The geologic history of the Black Hills is long and complex. In viewing the landscape, you would never guess the region had a history of vast oceans, uplifts, and volcanoes. These natural events, combined with millions of years of erosion and weathering, sculpted the rocks into their present shapes and elevations.

This Roadway Attracts Most Everyone
The Needles Highway began attracting public attention upon its completion in 1922. Like past years, visitors continue to drive the narrow roadway to revel in its natural beauty and admire its engineering feat.

Today, sightseers explore more than the roadway, a varied number of recreational activities take place within this rocky terrain.

Do Rocks Have Recipes?
The Needles Eye and
Tunnel Photos on The Needles Eye Marker image. Click for full size.
By William J. Toman, August 9, 2010
2. Tunnel Photos on The Needles Eye Marker
Top caption: Due to its initial cost, locals referred to this roadway as the "Needless Highway" in the 1920s. However, over the years, it has become a popular byway that enhanced the regional tourism economy.

Lower caption: Touring cars were a common sight along Needles Highway during the 1920s. They have since been replaced by family cars, campers, and tour buses. Past or present, the roadway showcases some of the best scenery in the Black Hills.
Cathedral Spires are made from granite. It is an igneous rock, forming underground from magma (liquid rock). As it pushed upward millions of years ago, the molten rock cooled very slowly. At times, this cooling process yields large crystals which tend to be minerals within one of these three families: feldspar, mica, and quartz.

Caption for largest photo: The Cathedral Spires is perhaps the most famous rock formation in the Black Hills. Its name comes from the towering peaks which appear like organ pipes from the Needles Highway.

Caption for drawing: Kids often observe more than what is expected during a family vacation. Some scenery simply captures their attention and causes them to become more aware of their natural world.
 
Erected by Custer State Park.
 
Location. 43° 50.539′ N, 103° 32.744′ W. Marker is near Custer, South Dakota, in Custer County. Marker is on Peter Norbeck Scenic Byway aka Needles Highway (State Highway 87) one mile east of State Highway 89, on the right when traveling west. Click for map. Marker is in this post office area: Custer SD 57730, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 6 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. The Hearst Highway (approx. 5 miles away); Campsite of General Custer's Expedition
Rock Climber Photos on the Needles Eye Marker image. Click for full size.
By William J. Toman, August 9, 2010
3. Rock Climber Photos on the Needles Eye Marker
Caption: The Needles Eye and Cathedral Spires of Custer State Park offer some of the best climbing routes in the country. Rock climbers travel from around the world to challenge themselves on the nearby formations.
(approx. 5 miles away); Abraham Lincoln (approx. 5.1 miles away); George Washington (approx. 5.1 miles away); Rushmore Workers (approx. 5.1 miles away); Theodore Roosevelt (approx. 5.1 miles away); History of the United States of America (approx. 5.1 miles away); (Mount Rushmore) Chronology (approx. 5.1 miles away). Click for a list of all markers in Custer.
 
Categories. Natural FeaturesRoads & Vehicles
 
The Needles Eye, Custer State Park, in the Black Hills image. Click for full size.
By Mike Stroud, June 1992
4. The Needles Eye, Custer State Park, in the Black Hills
The Needles Eye Marker image. Click for full size.
By William J. Toman, August 9, 2010
5. The Needles Eye Marker
With the Needles Eye (both of them) above the marker.
Custer State Park Tunnel, as mentioned, Needles Highway image. Click for full size.
By Mike Stroud, June 1992
6. Custer State Park Tunnel, as mentioned, Needles Highway
Cathedral Spires, as mentioned image. Click for full size.
By Mike Stroud, June 1992
7. Cathedral Spires, as mentioned
Rock climbers next to the Needles Eye image. Click for full size.
By William J. Toman, August 9, 2010
8. Rock climbers next to the Needles Eye
The climbers are on the spire on the left.
Closer view of the rock climbers image. Click for full size.
By William J. Toman, August 9, 2010
9. Closer view of the rock climbers
Even closer view of the rock climbers image. Click for full size.
By William J. Toman, August 9, 2010
10. Even closer view of the rock climbers
Tunnel next to the Needles Eye image. Click for full size.
By William J. Toman, August 9, 2010
11. Tunnel next to the Needles Eye
Cathedral Spires Marker image. Click for full size.
By William J. Toman, August 9, 2010
12. Cathedral Spires Marker
The marker reads:
Cathedral Spires and Limber
Pine Natural Area
has been designated a
Registered Natural Landmark
This site possesses exceptional value
as an illustration of the nation's natural
heritage and contributes to a better
understanding of man's environment.
1977
National Park Service
U.S. Department of the Interior
Cathedral Spires and Marker image. Click for full size.
By William J. Toman, August 9, 2010
13. Cathedral Spires and Marker
The marker is set in the rock at the bottom of the spire on the left.
 
 
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by William J. Toman of Green Lake, Wisconsin. This page has been viewed 1,321 times since then and 10 times this year. Last updated on , by William J. Toman of Green Lake, Wisconsin. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on , by William J. Toman of Green Lake, Wisconsin.   3. submitted on , by William J. Toman of Green Lake, Wisconsin.   4. submitted on , by Mike Stroud of Bluffton, South Carolina.   5. submitted on , by William J. Toman of Green Lake, Wisconsin.   6, 7. submitted on , by Mike Stroud of Bluffton, South Carolina.   8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13. submitted on , by William J. Toman of Green Lake, Wisconsin. • Syd Whittle was the editor who published this page. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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