Nancy Pickard says that the fictional Testament Rocks in The Scent of Rain and Thunder are based on Monument Rocks located in Gove County, Kansas, a few hundred miles west of her home in Merriam, close to Kansas City.
Set in the high plains, Gove County is cut through from west to east by a deep valley caused by the Smoky Hill River, and is lined with geologic splendors such as Castle Rock and Monument Rocks (pictured below).
The 70 foot high limestone formations known as Monument Rocks or the Chalk Pyramids (chalk being a type of limestone), originally formed about 80 million years ago, when the central interior of the US was covered by sea to a depth of several hundred feet. This sea was inhabited by a rich cornucopia of life including fish, turtles, sharks, giant oysters and clams, and swimming reptiles such as plesiosaurs. The sea was also home to countless numbers of single-celled calcium carbonate secreting creatures, the tiny shells of which ...