Ouachita Mountains


Ouachita Mountains
Ouachita Mountains topographic map.
The area illustrated by the topographic map.

The Ouachita Mountains (pronounced /ˈwɒʃɨtɔː/ wosh-i-taw)[1] are a mountain range in west central Arkansas and southeastern Oklahoma. The range's subterranean roots may extend as far as central Texas, or beyond it to the current location of the Marathon Uplift. Along with the Ozark Mountains, the Ouachita Mountains form the U.S. Interior Highlands, one of the few major mountainous regions between the Rocky Mountains and the Appalachian Mountains.[2][3] The highest peak in the Ouachitas is Mount Magazine in west-central Arkansas which rises to 2,753 feet (839 m).

Contents

Etymology

The word Ouachita is composed of two Choctaw words: ouac, a buffalo, and chito, large. It means the country of large buffaloes, numerous herds of those animals having formerly covered the prairies of Ouachita.[4]

Geology and physiography

The Ouachita Mountains are a physiographic section of the larger Ouachita province (which includes both the Ouachita Mountains and the Arkansas Valley), which in turn is part of the larger Interior Highlands physiographic division.[5]

The Ouachita Mountains are fold mountains like the Appalachian Mountains to the east, and were originally part of that range. During the Pennsylvanian part of the Carboniferous period, about 300 million years ago, the coastline of the Gulf of Mexico ran through the central parts of Arkansas. As the South American plate drifted northward, a subduction zone was created in this region. The South American oceanic crust was forced underneath the less-dense North American continental crust. Geologists call this collision the Ouachita orogeny. The collision buckled the continental crust, producing the fold mountains we call the Ouachitas. At one time the Ouachita Mountains were very similar in height to the current elevations of the Rocky Mountains. Because of the Ouachitas' age, the craggy tops have eroded away, leaving the low formations that used to be the heart of the mountains.

Unlike most other mountain ranges in the United States, the Ouachitas run east and west rather than north and south. Also, the Ouachitas are distinctive in that volcanism, metamorphism, and intrusions are notably absent throughout most of the system.

The Ouachitas are noted for quartz crystal deposits around the Mount Ida area and for renowned Arkansas novaculite whetstones. This quartz was formed during the Ouachita orogeny, as folded rocks cracked and allowed fluids from deep in the Earth to fill the cracks.

The Ouachita Mountain area of Arkansas is dominated by Cambrian through Pennsylvanian clastic sediments, with the lower Collier formation in the core of the range and the Atoka formation on the flanks. The Atoka Formation, formed in the Pennsylvanian Period, is a sequence of marine, mostly tan to gray silty sandstones and grayish-black shales. Some rare calcareous beds and siliceous shales are known.[6] The Collier sequence is composed of gray to black, lustrous shale containing occasional thin beds of dense, black, and intensely fractured chert. An interval of bluish-gray, dense to spary, thin-bedded limestone may be present. Near its top, the limestone is conglomeratic and pelletoidal, in part, with pebbles and cobbles of limestone, chert, meta-arkose, and quartz. It was formed during the Late Cambrian.[6]

Flora

The mountains are known to contain at least 15 endemic plant species (i.e. plants that occur nowhere else). These include Sabatia arkansana, Valerianella nuttallii, Liatris compacta and Quercus acerifolia.[7]

Tourism

The Ouachita Mountains contain the Ouachita National Forest, Hot Springs National Park and Lake Ouachita, as well as numerous state parks and scenic byways. They also contain the Ouachita National Recreation Trail, a 223-mile-long (359 km) hiking trail through the heart of the mountains. The trail runs from Talimena State Park in Oklahoma to Pinnacle Mountain State Park near Little Rock, Arkansas. It is a well maintained, premier trail for hikers, backpackers, and mountain bikers (for only selected parts of the trail).

The Talimena Scenic Byway begins at Mena, Arkansas, and traverses 54 miles (87 km) of Winding Stair and Rich Mountains, long narrow east-west ridges which extend into Oklahoma. Rich Mountain reaches an elevation of 2,681 feet (817 m) in Arkansas near the Oklahoma border. The 2-lane winding road is similar in routing, construction, and scenery to the Blue Ridge Parkway of the Appalachian Mountains.[8]

History

The mountains were home to the Ouachita tribe, for which they were named. Later French explorers translated the name to its present spelling. The first recorded exploration was in 1541 by Hernando de Soto. Later, in 1804, President Jefferson sent William Dunbar and Dr. George Hunter to the area after the Louisiana Purchase. Hot Springs National Park became one of the nation's first parks in 1832. The Battle of Devil's Backbone was fought here at the ridge of the same name in 1863. In August 1990, the U.S. Forest Service discontinued clearcutting as the primary tool for harvesting and regenerating short leaf, pine and hardwood forests in the Ouachita National Forest.

References

Further reading

External links

Coordinates: 34°30′01″N 94°30′02″W / 34.50038°N 94.5005°W / 34.50038; -94.5005


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  • Ouachita Mountains — Reliefkarte der Ouachitas Ouachita Mountains …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Ouachita Mountains — a range extending from SE Oklahoma to W Arkansas. * * * ▪ mountains, United States       a rugged range of large hills that continues the Ozark Plateau in the United States. The Ouachita Mountains extend approximately 225 miles (360 km) east to… …   Universalium

  • Ouachita Mountains — Sp Vòšitos kalna Ap Ouachita Mountains L JAV (Arkanzasas ir Oklahoma) …   Pasaulio vietovardžiai. Internetinė duomenų bazė

  • Ouachita Mountains — geographical name mountains W Arkansas & SE Oklahoma S of Arkansas River …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • Ouachita Mountains — Ouach′ita Moun′tains n. pl. geg a range extending from SE Oklahoma to W Arkansas …   From formal English to slang

  • Ouachita Mountains — a range extending from SE Oklahoma to W Arkansas …   Useful english dictionary

  • Ouachita National Forest — IUCN Category VI (Managed Resource Protected Area) Location Arkansas / Oklahoma, USA Nearest city …   Wikipedia

  • Ouachita River — Karte des Einzugsgebietes des Ouachita River Daten …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Ouachita — may refer to: In geography: Ouachita Mountains Ouachita orogeny the geologic event that raised the Ouachita Mountains Ouachita River Ouachita Parish, Louisiana Ouachita County, Arkansas Ouachita National Forest Ouachita National Recreation Trail… …   Wikipedia


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