Dixon County - Genealogy Trails




Nebraska Volcano

The Famous Burning Hill

Quiet since 1878

Again Breathing Fire


Ponca. Neb.—The famous burning hill on the Missouri river, twelve miles above here, has burst into flame again, the first sign it has made since  1878.


Steam is escaping from the crevices, and the combustion is so fierce as to bring the interior to a red heat.  Flames issue from some of the fissures, and the mysterious noises so terrifying to the Indians have been resumed.


The breaking out afresh of the burning hill has been reported to the University of Nebraska, and a geological party will soon make an excursion to the spot.


The bluff upon which the phenomenon is observed is near Ionia, on the south bank of the river. It is mentioned in Huse's History of Nebraska as having been seen by Lewis and Clarke in their famous expedition up the Missouri river. These travelers said that the blazing hill had been known to the Indians from time immemorial, and had been regarded with much superstitious fear. Evil manitous were supposed to dwell in the sumptuous fires, and many strange legends clung: about the spot.


The volcano is believed to be due to the peculiar formation of the rock, which is of carbonate of lime mingled with innumerable crystals of bisulphate of iron or iron pyrites. The decomposition of the component parts is credited with bringing about the violent chemical action. This interesting spot attracted wide attention about a quarter of a century ago and was visited by many scientists.


In 1878 the Missouri river undermined the bluff, and it fell into the water. The strange fires were quenched and the rumbling in the earth was heard no more.



 Fort Worth Morning Register - November 10, 1901








Iona "Volcano" Active   


Stories of Travelers About Dixon County's Freak




According to the stories told by travelers at the Burlington passenger station yesterday, the people of Ponca and vicinity have become alarmed over the actions of the old Iona "volcano" in that locality, which has resumed a wonderful activity since the volcano on the island of Martinique destroyed St. Pierre.  


According to the various story tellers, the Iona Volcano has been spitting smoke and ashes during the past three days.


Those who are familiar with the old "Volcano" are rather amused, since it was demonstrated by scientists years ago that water seeping through a limestone formation caused the steam and  hot spot on the earth that was long ago the fear and  mystery of the Indians along the river bank in Dixon County.


Over twenty years ago some Dakota farmers thought that they could find coal by digging into the volcano.  By doing so they not only located the source of the heat but also destroyed it for a time.  Then the big flood of 1881 again chilled its ardor till a year or so ago, when the 'Volcano" resumed operations.




Omaha World Herald - May 13, 1902