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Did you know that the earth's continents shift approximately 1-inch per year?

This means that 500 million years ago, which is the age of the rocks on the Foundation property, Wisconsin was 500-million inches from where it is today. Add that up and it equals more than 13,000 miles! As a matter of fact, the land we now know as Wisconsin was sitting on the equator 500 million years ago.

Layered Sandstone

Perched Hawk

Back then, the sea-level was higher, and a vast, shallow ocean covered Wisconsin and most of North America. The solidified lime mud, sand, silt and shells that accumulated in the ancient ocean can still be viewed today in the valleys, caves, and rock outcroppings on the Foundation property.

The layers of rock are like pages in an ancient book. Each page tells a fascinating geologic story of violent hurricanes, strange life-forms (like giant squids inside torpedo-shaped shells), and extinction caused by meteor impacts and other catastrophes.

The Foundation property also has another, more recent story to tell. Over the past 3 million years, massive ice sheets have repeatedly slid into the Midwest from Canada. These ice sheets left behind huge volumes of sand, gravel, and boulders when they retreated. This material is called glacial "drift." The glacial drift left by the glaciers created most of Wisconsin's gently-rolling landscape.

One part of Wisconsin, the Driftless Area, was spared from all the glaciers. The Foundation property is part of the Driftless Area. Instead of rounded hills of glacial debris, the Driftless Area features hundreds of deep, narrow valleys. These valleys were cut into solid rock over millions of years by the Area's many streams. In a sense, the Driftless Area is like a fossil: it shows how the entire Midwest looked before the glaciers altered the landscape.