By Lynn Blamires Content Writer for My Local Utah
Number 4 in the series: Stories and Discoveries in the Backcountry
In the Black Desert
There is a strange formation in the desert west of Fillmore. It is related to the volcanic activity in the Black Rock Desert. In fact, the vast lava flows in this area make it easy to understand how it got its name.
The Lace Curtain
This unusual feature is known as the Lace Curtain and is also a result of volcanic activity. However, the nature of this volcanic structure will captivate your interest and imagination.
To reach the Lace Curtain, go west of Fillmore on 200 South. This route takes you into the Black Rock Desert. While the Lace Curtain can be accessed from Delta, going from Fillmore offers a shorter and smoother road to the volcano. Once west of Fillmore, Pavant Butte is easy to see.
A Hydro Volcano
The butte is actually an extinct volcano. To be more exact, it is an extinct hydro volcano meaning that it formed underwater in what we know as Lake Bonneville.
Lake Bonneville Played a Part
In 1876, geologist Grove Karl Gilbert published a map of Lake Bonneville. “In the Sevier arm of Lake Bonneville (home of today’s Sevier Lake/Playa), there were at least 15 islands, many of which were volcanic. The highest was today’s Pahvant Butte.” “It is the tallest of all the volcanic hills, and standing alone upon the plain, is a conspicuous landmark. Its general form is that of a cratered cone, but the crater is open at the south, and the circling crest has an acute culmination at the north” (Gilbert 1890).
The force of the last eruption was toward the south and the butte slopes more gently on that side. The Lace Curtain is on the north side of the butte.
The Lace Curtain Is Formed
The dripping and oozing appearance of the face of this lava formation is a result of being formed underwater and being subject to the force of wave action on the lava flow. It is fascinating to study the face of this feature. It is so intricate in its design that a passing glance will be less than satisfying.
A Favorite of Nesting Birds
Standing hundreds of feet high, it has become a favorite of nesting birds who have found homes in the myriad crooks and crannies that make up the face of the curtain.
A Mysterious Stranger
The last time I visited the Lace Curtain was an event spiked with mystery. We were having our lunch as we studied the convoluted surface of the curtain. My focus drifted to the right of this massive lava wall, and I suddenly noticed the shape of a man standing in the bushes.
He didn’t move, but the clear outline of him standing there was a little unnerving. In this staring contest, we were the first to blink and move on. Is he still there? I haven’t been back to find out.