Archive for September, 2007

In Praise of Puddingstone

Surrounded by vastly superior enemy forces, dogged by dwindling supplies and steady desertions, one of our greatest military generals was confronted with the prospect of imminent surrender…or annihilation. In the final desperate hours, however, he rallied his troops to a smashing victory by defying the invader’s demands with the cry, “None can resist the fury of our muskets, our bayonets, our puddingstones!”

Ummm…I made that up. But any patriots or redcoats who did battle in northern New Jersey most likely did marvel at the purple and white rock we know around here as puddingstone.

Perhaps they knew of the Hertfordshire blend of puddingstone, from the mother country in England (some academic stuff here for you rockhounds). Or, maybe they had marched through Roxbury, Massachusetts and seen that variety. But all you need to know about how those inferior brands match up to our lovely NJ puddingstone can be summed up as follows:


Our conglomerates are made up of eye-catching purplish/red sedimentary rock embedded with glowing white quartz – sometimes in lumps, sometimes in lines, sometimes both. Theirs looks like – well, concrete.

Here in Boonton, NJ, where I live, purple puddingstone is everywhere. On the ground. In foundations and chimneys. In forests, fields, and yards. And, topping stone walls.

garter-snake-puddingstone.jpgHiking in the mountains, you’ll come across individual puddingstones, or outcroppings, or huge swaths of white-spotted purplish rock. Even the garter snakes seem to know the best place to catch a few rays (image credit).

Purple puddingstone is not restricted to north Jersey – some spots in southern NY state (e.g., Schunemunk Mountain) also are so favored. This ridge connects up with Bearfort Mountain ridge in NJ, which also has outcroppings. There may be sightings in northeastern PA as well, but this I cannot verify, as I have not yet found a map detailing exactly where this rock begins and ends its reign.

However, in my yard, purple puddingstone reigns supreme. It is built into my walls, my borders, my chimneys…and one rather large specimen perches on its earthy throne at the edge of a flower bed.


No, puddingstone is not soon destined to replace diamond as the rock of choice signifying undying love. Nor is it likely to inspire striking military victories. But all-in-all, it’s a pretty nice side benefit to life in New Jersey, and if you don’t have a puddingstone on your shelf somewhere, you ought to swing by this part of the country and pick one up!


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