Skip to Content
HomeAbout this siteHelpSearch this site The Library of Congress
America's Story from America's LibraryMeet Amazing AmericansJump Back in TimeExplore the StatesJoin America at PlaySee, Hear and Sing
Explore the States Wisconsin
Photo of 'The Narrows, Dells of the Wisconsin.'
The Narrows of the Wisconsin Dells

Enlarge this image
The Wisconsin Dells
Have you ever heard of a dell?

The Wisconsin Dells are dramatic rock formations found along the Wisconsin River. They were shaped by strong currents of water from melting glaciers. About 500 million years ago, this area was a lot different than it looks today. It used to be covered by shallow seas. For about 80 million years the seas flowed back and forth over the land, leaving sand on the sea bottom. Over time, the sand kept building up until it rose above the seas. The huge sand formations that rose out of the water are the tall sandstone cliffs you see today in the Wisconsin Dells. These unique cliffs can be found in only three other areas in the world, Switzerland, Germany and parts of New York.

The Wisconsin Dells got their name from the French term "dalles." It means "slab-like rock." Some of the more distinctive rock formations are named for objects they resemble, such as Chimney Rock. During the 1800s, the Dells grew to be a popular tourist attraction in Wisconsin. Visitors still enjoy exploring the area's caves and arches.

page 1 of 1 More Stories

Library Of Congress | Legal Notices | Privacy | Site Map | Contact Us