The Glass (also known as Gloss) Mountains rise 150 to 200 feet above the flat surface of Major County in northwestern Oklahoma, six miles west of Orienta on U.S. Highway 412. Not really mountains, these features are mesas and buttes, part of the Blaine Escarpment that traverses northwestern Oklahoma. The highest elevation approaches 1,600 feet above sea level. An epeiric sea that once covered the region left behind layers of shale and siltstone, capped with a layer of gypsum. Selenite in the gypsum is glossy, giving a glass-like reflection of sunlight, thus inspiring the name. Geomorphically, the region is active with flooding and river channel downcutting, creating a mesa-covered landscape. The uplands are generally wooded.
Spanish explorers were the first to come through the area. In 1821 the first Americans are known to have explored "the Shining Mountains." as they called them. Later the region was part of the Cherokee Outlet, popularly known as the "Cherokee Strip," opened to settlement in 1892. Beginning in 1891 an early botanical explorer, George Walter Stevens, started collecting specimens in the Glass Mountains domain for his dissertation. The Bebb Herbarium of the University of Oklahoma holds 4,500 samples that Stevens collected statewide. Two cacti he may have collected in the Glass Mountains area are Echinocereus caespitosus and Opuntia phaecantha.
At the beginning of the twenty-first century the Glass Mountains remained part of Glass (Gloss) Mountain State Park, a conservation area of approximately 640 acres with a parking/picnic facility and informational kiosk. While there are no trails, hiking is popular in the area.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: Kenneth S. Johnson, "Mountains, Streams, and Lakes of Oklahoma," Oklahoma Geological Survey Informational Series No. 1 (Norman: Oklahoma Geological Survey, 1998). Kenneth S. Johnson, et al., Geology and Earth Resources of Oklahoma: An Atlas of Maps and Cross Sections (Norman: Oklahoma Geological Survey, 1972). John W. Morris, Geography of Oklahoma (Oklahoma City: Oklahoma Historical Society, 1977). John W. Morris, Charles R. Goins, and Edwin C. McReynolds, Historical Atlas of Oklahoma (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1986).
Melanie L. McPhail and Richard A. Marston
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