Black Hills Mystery

The Black Hills once spoke.

Indians, trappers, explorers, and traders in South Dakota’s Black Hills prior to the 19th century reported that they would occasionally hear unexplained noises — distant booms like huge drums or faraway cannon, quite unlike thunder. This booming was part of the reason that the Indians considered the hills sacrosanct and would only venture into them occasionally, furtively, catching game only at great need, and always leaving rich offerings hanging from the Ponderosa in exchange. The last report of the booming was from an expedition in 1833. No white man or Indian has heard the noises since.

interviewfrankmaceowen You startle awake. Your campfire has gone out. The stars are shining bright and hard, and the wind is rattling the branches overhead.
Boom, boom.
Find your pack and grab your gun, they’re coming.
Boom, boom. Away from the stream, where the brush is too thick, up under the pines, where there is room to run —
Boom, boom, they’re coming.
Out from the trees under a yawning mouth of sky, you see them.
Shaggy, black, towering,
The giants are out hunting,
Bald craggy heads,
Breath like cave winds,
Animals racing around them,
The Hills are giants.
The Hills are giants.
Even the white man
Knows in his heart —
He’s carved huge faces
In the living rock —
The Hills are giants.
Boom, boom. They’re coming.

So, what was the booming really? There is no official scientific explanation.

Whatever it “really” was — echoes in the underground cave systems, falling trees or rocks, aliens doing a bit of mining, Babe the Blue Ox’s ancestors, giant footsteps, the breath of gods — whatever it “really” was, the important thing is what speaks to our spirit.

May the Hills arise and speak again.


  1. Other website is
    The Black Hills in South Dakota are the petrified remains of an ancient “hyper-colossal” forest.
    These trees grew to miles in diameter and tens of miles tall.

  2. Jeff Lilly says:

    I gotta admit, Joseph, those pictures sure do look like gigantic chunks of petrified wood. I have three reservations:

    1. Usually petrified wood is made of silicates like quartz. What kind of rocks are these?
    2. A tree standing ten miles tall would be twice as high as Mt. Everest (unless it grew up out of the ocean?). At that height, there’s hardly any atmosphere to synthesize with sunlight, and the cold is deadly. No plant could have leaves at that height. So why grow that tall? …Maybe they were bushes?
    3. I’m not an expert, but I strongly suspect that ordinary wood would never be able to support such weight. In fact, I don’t think ordinary stone could support a column ten miles high. A planet’s gravity enforces a natural limit on the height of mountains — this is why Mars has taller mountains than Earth does (eg Olympus Mons, 17 miles high).

  3. I appreciate your objective interest. I realize that what I am saying is pretty astounding and beyond known reality, but it is true. It is true. I understand that my pictures are not proof but they are real pictures not faked in any way.
    I am just a basic hiker, not a geologist or scientist or any kind of ologist. I don’t know exactly what kind of rock this stuff has petrified into but there are differences in different areas and even the tree sap from these trees is petrified. Some of that is called South Dakota Rose Quartz. I am willing to even send samples to anyone interested for testing. Better yet if you come to the Black Hills and see it for yourself. There will be no doubt left. You will come away with a genuine “blown mind”, but in a good way.

    How they grew to such sizes is also a mystery to me. I understand the limitations that atmosphere and gravity put on such an organism but maybe things were different when these trees were alive. I have heard that according to physics, a bumble bee cannot fly, yet it does.

    I have put a few new pictures on the flickr site if anyone wants to look at them. I will also gather some satellite coordinates so you can look at them from above.

    Thanks again for allowing me to post here.

    Joseph C. Bennett

  4. I have “geotagged” a few pictures on the page.
    If you click on the map link on the “Thumb Of Og” pic. (36th pic) and use the satellite mode, you can see what so far, is the best example of one of these giant tree stumps that I have found. Thing about it is, there are bigger ones.

  5. Off the big forest subject, I re-read the article about the booming going on in the hills.
    It does still happen. Just a few days ago, July 2, I was exploring near Rockerville, SD with Tracey, we heard a pretty good boom and crash. It was only about 50 yards or so from us. It happens all the time.
    What happens is that big, small, huge, chunks of stone/petrified stuff just breaks loose and crashes down. A lot of times the boom (like a cannon shot) comes from the break or if it is something really high up, it booms pretty good when it hits bottom too. There are mega-huge chunks (house size sometimes) that break from the uplifted seafloor canyons as well. They make their own booming sounds.
    There are other beautiful sounds here, colors, smells, spirits, the life energy.
    A genuine symphony for the soul. Even just the slightest movement of your eyes; what floods in is beyond words.

  6. Finally, the source of the big forest destruction.

    Check out the giant crater in the western quarter of the united states.

    Go to the mapquest satellite viewer and use the aerial mode to view the western united states. Zoom to the third level from the bottom. Check the labels box.

    Now, look at where Boise, Idaho is located. Just north east of Boise is a very large impact recoil peak. There is another recoil peak a little further north west of Boise/northeast of Baker City Oregon. Uncheck the labels box and look at the map without the roads, etc. Look carefully at the area to the east, over to the area of yellowstone park and the northwest corner of Wyoming.

    To the north and south of the Yellowstone area, the crater rim is readily visible.

    Do this all with a smart student or a whole classroom if you can. (6th-8th grade).

    Follow the arc of the crater rim south.. to the south west, up to the north along the western Cascade Mountains up through Washington and then eastward around the canada border and on down south to reconnect back at the Yellowstone area. The crater rim here appears to have been affected by Yellowstone caldera activity.

    See the big impact crater. About 1000 miles in diameter. There is another, slightly smaller crater to the south.
    What’s the culprit here? Big asteroid and company? Largest craters yet discovered on Earth? So far.
    Discovered recently.

  7. Joseph has no idea what he is talking about in regards to anything geological. I have viewed his pictures, and most are of such poor quality, that it’s really difficult to make out what you are looking at. BTW Joseph, you should know that you are supposed to place an object in the picture so one can get an idea of scale. Joseph is simply trying to sucker people into his site, to get them to pay $5 to view his poor quality photos of “giant trees.”

    I am a geologist, unlike Joseph, and I studied the Black Hills, and surrounding areas. The Black Hills were uplifted about 40-70 mya during the Laramide Orogeny. This is also when the Rocky Mountains were created. See there was a tectonic plate that was moving up against the western half of the U.S., and subducting (or sliding under) the North American Plate. The pressure from which caused the uplift of these various mountains. The Black Hills’ core is comprised of Igneous Precambrian rocks. When crust is folded it creates anticlines and synclines. Imagine a set of waves, the anticline is the top of the wave, and the syncline is the U shape between the crests of the waves. Erosion wears away at the softer rock formations, leaving the harder igneous rocks exposed. Mt. Rushmore, and the peaks of the Black Hills are made from these igneous rocks. The peaks are anticlines that have been eroded.

    Joseph also mentions an enormous impact crater. Part of the area he’s referring to DOES have CRATERS, from YELLOWSTONE CALDERA. Caldera does not mean “volcano,” it refers to the crater left behind when the enormous volumes of lava erupted, which caused the ground to subside. Joseph doesn’t seem to realize, that the Yellowstone Caldera is a hot spot that continually is moving. Yellowstone Caldera was once much farther west than it is today. In the last 2 million years, 3 eruptions have occurred, with 3 overlapping craters.

    I doubt that Joseph even believes the misinformation he is spreading. I think it’s all about getting people to give him money to view his pictures.

  8. I heard these noises in about 2009. It was not thunder. It sounded like five shots of a big military cannon of some kind. It was very alarming. I was in the Johnson Siding area of the Black Hills, just west of Rapid City about 10 miles.

  9. Jeff Lilly says:

    Thanks, David! That’s fascinating. I wonder if it’s at all related to the rumbling and shaking they’ve been hearing in Wisconsin this spring?… The latest theory is that it was earthquakes, but that seems a bit of a stretch to me.

  10. Joseph Hyde says:


    For those with a ‘gravity problem’ and an ‘height of the atmosphere problem’ there is a Yahoo Group ‘Expanding Earth’ that may shed some light on this as well as some youtube videos ‘expanding earth’ that will give the reason that things may not have been as they are now. Also (sorry I can’t give the source, it was not given but might be able to be found) is of the find of a petrified tree in Texas of approximately 900 feet tall that would be over twice the height of any existing tree today, since the maximum height of trees may be around 400 feet given current theory on how high a tree can push it’s nutrients to the highest levels.

    If they are petrified trees, not just the ‘trees’ or ‘branches’ on the ground then some ‘gravitational calculations’ could prove interesting.

    I guess it’s hard to see the forests of data for the present paradymes… has more too.

    And the I guess is down for maintenance where I first ran across mention of these.

  11. I have heard somewhere in the past that our planets gravity has not always been stable. I believe this article spoke of that if we were to clone a dinasour that it would grow to full size or maybe if it did, it would died at a particular time because it would be crushe under its own weight as our current gravity is denser now then back then. Maybe before that asteroid crashed into us 10 million years ago our planet was not on a tilt as it is today, which causes our weather cycles. Weather was supposed to be more regular and stable, with seasonal zones and not shifting seasons and a lighter gravity that supported giants. we had giant animals, eg dinosours, hidden archaeology says we had giant humans 8 to 10 ft, it makes sence to have giant vegetation. Its just a thought worth looking into. Intresting to think about. would be good to go and see it for ourselves. Wolf

  12. Kenneth Hargens says:

    I have lived in the Black Hills all my life. My grandparents came here in 1890. I had to smile when I read that the sounds had not been ‘heard since 1833′! When I was a little fellow growing up in Custer State Park at the family’s historic home site, my Dad would caution me to be still and we could hear the strange rumblings. I have heard the sounds often throughout the years. Most recently this summer from my place at Redfern NW of Hill City. The sounds/rumblings are heard only on cloudless-blue sky days. I once read that scientists theorized that the sounds were ’caused by hydrogen escaping from cracks in the rocks’. If so, I wonder why I have never heard the sounds from close by as I am often out hiking and prospecting in the Hills?

  13. Jerry Jarvis says:

    I resided in the black hills of south Dakota from 1971 to 1983 in Pennington and Custer counties. From 1971 through 1976 we would hear mysterious loud booms when doing outdoor activities in Pennington county’s Rapid City and Ellsworth/Box Elder areas.. When I would ask about them I was told they were sonic booms or echoes from live fire exercises which I had heard both plenty while growing up on a regular basis at numerous locations in the USA and western Europe and I knew the sounds were neither of those. Plus the mystery booms never seemed to match up with any squadron exercises or flight activities. In 1977 I moved to Custer county where I resided through 1983. While there I worked in the woods as a logger, on the Railroad, in the hard rock mines as a driller and blaster, and as a truck driver. It was while living and working there that I and many other locals used to hear the loud mystery booms so often that we would often comment that the native spirits were restless again. The loud booms were often written up in the Rapid City Journal Newspaper for the mystery anomaly that they were. What I noticed was that they almost always occurred on cloudless warm days during all four seasons but especially spring, summer, and autumn, possibly during temperature inversions and almost always seemed to roll in from the west from a great distance away. The prevailing winds which blew from the NW to the SE could carry those mystery reverberations up to a hundred miles I would learn from talking to friends in the region who had heard them at the same time as I while outdoors. Custer, Pringle, Igloo, Hells Canyon, 18 mile Windmill, Jewel cave, Wind cave, Rochford, Lake Pactola were unique in that if you were west of those locations and the breeze was blowing just right you could hear the Burlington northern work trains in Newcastle Wyoming across the state line many miles away or work trains in the Edgemont S. Dakota yards dropping and hooking railcars, or the squeaking wheels on the mile long coal trains running between Edgemont and Newcastle especially once we got the 132 lb ribbon rail in. Having worked on the RR for Three years these were a very unique and easily recognized sound and surprised me that you could hear these goings on from sounds being carried so very far away, They were especially noticeable right on through hunting season each year when the hunters and wildlife were playing hide and seek with each other in the woods and being ultra quiet. These RR noises that were so common though were nothing like the mystery booms. It always made me curious as to what the source of these loud booms could be. I finally attributed them to either geologic activity or the weather. I also later learned from reading somewhere that the Black Hills of SD were one of only three places in the world known for hundreds of years to regularly and consistently produce those mystery booms, the other two being specific sites in Japan and China.


  1. […] climb any further. Somehow hanging here before me is a huge ghostly face, like the ones carved into Mt. Rushmore. Its eyes are half-lidded like a Buddha’s; it half-smiles, like Mona Lisa. A vast presence, […]

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