Professor’s book appeals to new audience

Jocelyn Richard

ProfessorAs a Whitman professor and avid climber, Kevin Pogue’s enthusiasm for the City of Rocks reaches both in and out of the classroom. His new book, “Etched in Stone: The Geology of City of Rocks National Reserve and Castle Rocks State Park, Idaho,” is the first of its kind to explore the geology of the area in a format that is accessible to both park naturalists and visitors.

Published this year by the Idaho Geological Survey, the book provides a detailed overview of the geological evolution and history of the City of Rocks National Reserve and the adjacent Castle Rock State Park. Featuring a glossary of important terms and photographs of geologic structures, the book is designed to appeal to readers with a broad range of educational backgrounds.

“The idea behind the book was not only to make something that summarized and explained the geology scientifically for geologists, but was also approachable for the layperson,” said Pogue.

The culmination of six years of research, the book is the only academic resource available that provides a comprehensive, intelligible study of the park’s geological development.

“One of my driving inspirations for this book was that once the City of Rocks became part of the National Park Service, all the interpretive resources were geared towards the historical California trial,” says Pogue. “There was nothing about the rocks and how they formed and what made this unique landscape. What I wanted to do was put [these resources] in a form the park naturalist could work with and be able to understand.”

The book’s accessibility may stem from the fact that both professors and students collaborated on the project.

“I had about nine different student senior theses that I supervised in the City of Rocks and those theses helped confirm the various types of geologic processes that were operating in the park and how they affected the evolution of the landscape there,” says Pogue.

Working with students, he says, is the most rewarding part of doing research. From the Wallowas to the Himalayas, Pogue has led Whitman students on a number of field trips.

“The coolest part about doing the book was wandering around in this incredible landscape, gathering the data and making discoveries with students who were excited about being out there in the field,” said Pogue.

On Sep. 20, Pogue is returning to the City of Rocks, where he will be leading field trips and giving a talk for the twentieth anniversary of the park.