Quartzite, a hard stone created from ancient sand beds, occurs in many locales. Some deposits of quartzite formed as a pink stone known as Sioux quartzite. Found mainly in the western part of the United States, pink Sioux quartzite serves as a durable building material and decorative stone for architectural detail. Nothing goes to waste with pink Sioux quartzite. Quarry scraps become riprap, protecting slopes against erosion; smaller bits are used in road construction and railroad track beds.
Centuries ago sand layered on ancient sea beds became compressed. Heat and pressure acted on the sand to form stone. Some of this sandstone contained the appropriate combination of elements to become quartzite. The U.S. Geological Survey reports the pink variety became known as Sioux quartzite because of large deposits found in Sioux Falls, S.D.
Minnesota, Iowa, Kansas, South Dakota, Utah and Nebraska possess documented deposits of pink Sioux quartzite. The stone often occurs in the company of catlinite or pipestone. Some of the pink Sioux quartzite found is far from its original source, scraped from a deposit by glacier action, carried to another location and dropped. These stones, known as erratics, range in size from pebbles to giant boulders such as Pilot Rock in the Little Sioux River valley.
Samples of Sioux quartzite can display many shades including red, pink, mauve and a purplish hue. The variety of colors widens the decorative potential of the stone.
Quartzite’s hardness gives it a high degree of durability. One of the hardest stones in the world, it closely rivals diamonds for hardness. The durability makes it a material well-suited to construction and architectural projects. The stone withstands weather conditions well, providing a suitable exterior for buildings.
Once quarried, the stone can be finished in a number of ways to achieve a variety of looks. According to the Jasper Stone Company, “The stone can be polished, flamed, split or pitched giving it a unique texture…” Whether the user desires a finish that is smooth and polished, rough-hewn and craggy or somewhere in between, pink Sioux quartzite provides a medium capable of delivering the look.
Some locations of pink Sioux quartzite display carvings or petroglyphs from ancient peoples. Sites such as Blue Mounds and Jeffers, Minnesota add interpretive displays and trained guides to add to visitors’ understanding and appreciation of the sites.