Friday, February 1, 2013

The Devils Punchbowl

Dianas Punchbowl
aka Devils Punchbowl
Nye County, Nevada
Los Angeles County, California   May 29, 2000
Nye County, Nevada   May 24, 2009
Montgomery County, Indiana   July 3, 2011

The Devil has quite a number of punchbowls in the United States. Over 20 places in more than a dozen states have been called the Devil's Punchbowl or Punch Bowl. The Devils Punchbowl is also found in other English-speaking countries including Canada, New Zealand, Ireland, England, and Wales. Since the devil is known in other languages, his punchbowls are also found elsewhere in the world. In Ecuador at the Rio Verde it is called La Ponchera del Diablo.

We are not talking about a large bowl from which a beverage such as punch is served. Rather, these punchbowls are unique geologic or topographic features which to an explorer's eye may look like a bowl-like depression. These features include basins, springs, lakes, and waterfalls. The devil's ownership to the punchbowls has been usurped by man, but the devil's presence at one time or another engulfed these places. The anxiety of a placenamer who came upon one of these punchbowls may have spawned a fright that only the devil can bring. A legend telling of the devil haunting, causing mischief, or bargaining for a soul at the punchbowl may have evoked anxiety and fright in the placenamer. Or it may have just been a shiver down the back of the placenamer as the punchbowl brought visions of the devil's dwelling.

I have landed in the Devil's punchbowl three times. The mere name enticed me to travel out of my way to see these imprints on the earth. The hands-on lessons they gave me in geology and geography sweetened the visits.

Los Angeles County, California
My first visit to a Devils Punchbowl was in 2000 when I landed in the Devils Punchbowl Natural Area in the northeast corner of Los Angeles County. The punchbowl is located in a county park that encompasses a remnant of a sandstone formation that sticks out in a basin formed by Pinyon Ridge and the San Gabriel Mountains. It is this sandstone - plunging, tilting, twisting, exposed rock - and its canyons that must have reminded folks of hell and its resident. The Natural Area is a geologic laboratory of a plunging syncline, faulting by the Pinyon and Punchbowl Faults, and erosion by waters from the adjacent San Gabriel Mountains. The one-mile loop trail drops you down into the canyons for a close-up view of the sandstone and the eerie reminders of the devil.  
Nye County, Nevada

Probably one of the more desolate punchbowls is Dianas Punch Bowl which has also been referred to as the Devils Punchbowl or Cauldron. It is located in the center of Nevada in Basin and Range country as it sits in the Monitor Valley between the Toquima Range and the Monitor Range. You can see it from miles away because it is not a depression in the valley but rather a small white pimple on the flat landscape. The pimple is actually a hill formed by limestone which was deposited by a hot spring. The top of the hill has a wide hole that looks down into a geothermal pool, and the hill has become a punchbowl of very hot water that is too hot to enjoy and would feel like you were in hell if you tried.  

Shades State Park,
The Devils Punchbowl in Shades State Park in central Indiana holds water of a more agreeable temperature. The punchbowl was formed by the erosion of small creeks that hollowed out a cavity below. Waterfalls now drop down into the punchbowl and continue to erode the sandstone walls and bottom of the bowl. Even in the brightest of sunlight, the surrounding trees and walls cast a shadow on the punchbowl and create a gloomy feeling to those standing at the bottom.

In my explorations of the Devils Punchbowls, I did not encounter the devil or have any frightening experiences. But there are still at least two dozen more places to look for the devil serving his punch from a bowl.  (See the list below for the Devils Punchbowl in the United States)

Web Links

LA County Parks and Recreation - Devils Punchbowl Natural Area

Backyard Traveler Blog - Diana's Punchbowl

Indiana Department of Natural Resources - Shades State Park

The Devils Punchbowl in the United States

Feature names recognized by the United States Board on Geographic Names
(If you are looking for the location of a specific feature, I have included the latitude and longitude in decimal form as provided by the BGN.)

  • Devils Punch Bowl, a lake in Skagway County, Alaska (59.4291485, -135.2807178)
  • Devils Punch Bowl, a basin in Mono County, California (37.8154855, -119.0276446)
  • Devils Punchbowl, a basin and county park in Los Angeles County, California (34.4094426, -117.8475629)
  • Devils Punchbowl, a lake in Plumas County, California (40.0182259, -120.8021739)
  • Devils Punchbowl, a basin in San Diego County, California (32.9692144, -116.6827990)
  • Devils Punchbowl, a basin in Siskiyou County, California (41.8028944, -123.6717329)
  • Devils Punchbowl, a lake in Fresno County, California (37.1257815, -118.8306864)
  • The Punchbowl, also known as Devils Punch Bowl, a basin in Nevada County, California (39.1982276, -121.0824501)
  • Devils Punchbowl, a basin in Pitkin County, Colorado (39.1191560, -106.7086462)
  • Devils Punch Bowl Lake in Cherry County, Nebraska (42.4899065, -100.7047573)
  • Devils Punch Bowl, a spring in Elko County, Nevada (41.2613068, -115.3045039)
  • Dianas Punch Bowl, also known as Devils Punch Bowl, a spring in Nye County, Nevada (39.0302080, -116.6650778)
  • Devils Punch Bowl, a locale in Douglas County, Oregon (42.8526149, -123.6067411)
  • Devils Punchbowl, a state park, basin, and arch in Lincoln County, Oregon (44.7465042, -124.0670605)
  • Devils Punch Bowl, a lake in Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania (41.9900761, -75.5910035)
  • Devils Punch Bowl, a lake in Grant County, Washington (47.8540380, -119.119907)
  • Devils Punch Bowl, a county park in Dunn County, Wisconsin (44.8505186, -91.9518427)
  • Devils Punch Bowl, a basin in Hot Springs County, Wyoming (43.6616227, -108.1914872)
  • Punch Bowl Spring, also known as Devils Punch Bowl, a spring in Teton County, Wyoming (44.4749324, -110.8577115)

 Other Features in the United States known as the Devils Punchbowl
  • Devil's Punch Bowl, also known as Giant's Punch Bowl, a rock near Winslow, Arizona
  • Devil's Punchbowl, also known as Chassahowitzka Main Spring, a spring at the headwaters of the Chassahowitzka River in Citrus County, Florida
  • The Punch Bowl, also known as the Devil's Punch Bowl, a spring along Biscayne Bay in Dade County, Florida
  • Devil's Punchbowl, a basin in Shades State Park, Montgomery County, Indiana
  • Devil's Punch Bowl, a basin along the bank of the Mississippi River near Natchez, Mississippi
  • Devil's Punch Bowl, a basin in the Ausable Chasm near Keeseville, New York
  • Devil's Punch Bowl, a basin along the Mount Hood Loop Highway, Oregon
  • Devil's Punch Bowl, a locale at Lake Crescent in Clallam County, Washington

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