Marie McAden



Gravity gets the better of Peachtree Rock

Posted 12/10/2013 1:26:00 PM

It was bound to happen. Peachtree Rock, the Midlands’ famed inverted pyramid-shaped sandstone formation, has finally toppled.

The gravity-defying geologic wonder is standing on its point no more. Visitors to The Nature Conservancy’s 460-acre Peachtree Rock Heritage Preserve will find the top-heavy rock laying on its side in state.

Which begs the question: If a rock falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?

I’m going with a resounding yes. This behemoth had to create one seriously loud, earth-shaking, window-rattling boom when it fell over. Why it finally faltered I don’t know.

I can tell you how it came to be. Some 60 million years ago, this coastal plain forest was part of an ancient shoreline. Ocean waves washing over the land eroded the sandstone outcroppings and left behind beach-like sand and an abundance of marine fossils. If you look closely, you can see burrows in the rock created by the marine life that swam this region millions of years ago.

Peachtree Rock’s lower layers, made of soft sandstone, suffered serious erosion over time. The upper portion of the 20-foot tall prehistoric outcrop, made of a hard layer of rock known as ironstone, wore away at a much slower rate.

Although the eroded section measured just eight feet in circumference, it managed to hold up the heavier 10-foot-by-20-foot top for untold years. Now retired, the fallen rock will be left as is.

Visitors can still gawk at Little Peachtree Rock, a second, smaller upside-pyramid-shaped rock standing farther along the preserve’s two-mile loop trail. The preserve also features the only waterfall in the sandhills of South Carolina.

Located in Lexington just a few minutes from Columbia Metropolitan Airport, Peachtree Rock Heritage Preserve features eight miles of easy-walking trails.
For directions or more information on the preserve, click here or call The Nature Conservancy at (803) 254-9049.