Little Jerusalem

J.S. and S.W. Aber


Little Jerusalem consists of eroded chalk badlands on the southern slope of the Smoky Hill River valley in western Kansas. It's located in the Chalk Buttes physiographic region. This site is one of the crown jewels of Kansas geology—see KGS. It had been in private family ownership for five generations and was acquired by the Nature Conservancy in the autumn of 2016—see news story.

Kansas physiographic regions. Location of Little Jerusalem indicated by asterisk (*) in the southeastern corner of Logan County. Map adapted from Aber and Aber (2009).

We obtained permission and visited in mid-November 2016. Weather was exceptionally mild for this time of year and nearly ideal for kite aerial photography. KAP was conducted from two locations from the eastern side with morning light and from the center at mid-day. At the first site, we used the Canon S70 autokap camera rig, and at the second site we employed the radio-controlled Nikon GPS camera rig. In both cases, the large rokkaku performed flawlessly as the lifting kite. KAP was undertaken by J.S. and S.W. Aber, and we were accompanied by Tom and Naomi Peterson and Gayla Corley.

Overview of Little Jerusalem
Panorama looking toward the southwest (left) and west (right), acquired in mid-morning light. Assembled from two wide-angle shots.

Low-height views of the eastern end (left) and central portion (right) showing numerous chalk buttes and erosional features, which resemble ruins of an ancient city.
Overviews looking toward the northwest (left) and northeast (right). The sinuous brown path in the background is the dry channel of the Smoky Hill River.
Closer shots of the intricate pattern of gully erosion. Left: gully heads eating into the upland surface. Right: the light patch across the bottom is an old chalk quarry.
Vertical shots of deep ravines and chalk buttes. Yucca plants dot the upper surfaces and tumbleweeds fill the gullies. Note two people in upper left corner on the close-up image (right).

Ground views
Yuccas (left) are numerous on the ground, which requires close attention while walking to avoid their sharp spines. We saw tracks of many animals and came across a jackrabbit (right) hiding in the grass.


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All text and images © by the authors (2016).