Collapsed Cliff Causes Closure of a Montana State Park
Yikes! How scary would it be to see a boulder twice the size of an automobile coming your way?
It's unclear whether anyone was around to hear it. Regardless, we're pretty sure it DID make a sound. Fortunately, there were no injuries. Unfortunately, there is plenty of cleanup and further safety inspections to do.
Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks tells us that the face of a sandstone cliff overlooking Pictograph Cave State Park just outside of Billings collapsed last week, sending boulders over the roadway and a hiking trail. FWP officials have closed the park indefinitely until they can repair the roadway and assess the potential for additional rock falls.
For those unfamiliar, Pictograph Cave State Park pays homage to the origins of human habitation in Montana. The Pictograph Cave site was designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1964, because of its archeological significance. Visitors can explore the mystery of this site and tour the visitor center. Prehistoric hunters who camped in Pictograph Cave left behind artifacts and over 100 pictographs, or rock paintings. The oldest rock art in the cave is over 2,000 years old.
Nobody was injured and no buildings were damaged by the cliff's collapse, which left boulders – ranging in size from a basketball to YES, twice as big as a car – strewn at the base of the 100-foot-tall cliff and across the park access road and a hiking trail. The roadway since has been cleared of rocks, but damage to the surface remains.
Geological engineers are assessing the potential for additional rockslides, which could cause damage or injury in the area. Until that work is done, the park will remain closed to the public.
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