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A mountain is an area of land that rises at least 1000 feet above the earth’s crust. The famous and towering mountain ranges of the western United States, the Rocky Mountains and Sierra Nevada, are geological children compared to the oldest mountains in the country. We’ve compiled details and ranked the oldest mountain ranges in the United States by age. Let’s look at that now.
6th place: Black Hills at the age of 70 million years
The Black Hills are a lone mountain range in South Dakota and Wyoming. The highest peak is over 7,000 feet, although millions of years ago peaks rose to 15,000 feet. People have lived there for over 10,000 years, and white settlers flooded the area in a gold rush in the 19th century.
Uplift occurred around the Cretaceous-Paleogene boundary, creating these hills. The core of these mounds consists of rock formed over two billion years ago.
The Lakota name for the mountains is Paha Sapa, meaning black hills. This means the black silhouettes of the mountains on the horizon when you look at the mountains from afar.
The Black Hills spruce is an endemic tree. Wildlife includes American bison, bighorn sheep, prairie dogs, flying squirrels and ruffed grouse. The white-winged junco is endemic to the region.
Mount Rushmore is a famous tourist stop in the region. The faces of Presidents Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Thomas Jefferson and George Washington are carved into the rock of Mount Rushmore.
5th place: Arbuckle Mountains at the age of 300 million years
Between the Rocky Mountains and the Appalachian Mountains lie the Arbuckle Mountains in Oklahoma. They are the oldest geological development located between these two main chains.
The core of this mountain range consists of materials that were formed over 1.4 billion years ago. The top layer was formed over 290 million years ago as sediment from a now-extinct ocean that accumulated over time.
Beneath these mountains is an important aquifer called the Arbuckle-Simpson Aquifer. Water intrusion through thick limestone has created a network of caves. The area has fault lines including the North Sulfur and South Sulfur faults.
The highest peak is just over 1,400 feet above sea level, although this looks truncated as the surrounding land is also elevated. For this reason they are sometimes called hills, even though they are technically tiny mountains.
They were much larger in the past, but they have eroded over time. This erosion makes these mountains more of a plateau with many ridges.
4th place: Ouachita Mountains aged 300 million years
The Ouachita Mountains of southeastern Oklahoma are the remnants of a much larger mountain range that no longer exists. This larger extinct range probably stretched from Canada to Texas. The Ozark Plateaus and the Ouachitas make up the US Interior Highlands.
There is a notable endemic plant population. Some local plants include Ouachita Bluet, Browne’s Water Leaf, Arkansas Gayfeather, Ouachita Mountain Goldenrod, Narrow-Leaf Verbena, and Palmer’s Corn Salad.
The name Ouachita refers to the original indigenous people of the region. When the French colonialists found these mountains, they Latinized the indigenous word to what it is today.
3rd place: Presidential Range at the age of 350 million years
Most Appalachians are temperate, although there are some exceptions. One is Mount Washington in the Presidential Range, and this and the surrounding peaks comprise over 7.5 square miles of area above tree line.
Mount Washington sometimes experiences winds in excess of 200 miles per hour. It’s also freezing cold, never exceeding 21 degrees Celsius since modern records began.
The Presidential Range is part of the White Mountains, and the White Mountains occupy much of New Hampshire and part of Maine. The mountain range is known for its ruggedness and features some of the most difficult terrain found on the Appalachian Trail.
2nd place: Appalachians at the age of 480 million years
The Appalachian Mountains are a mountain range in eastern United States and Canada. These mountains stretch from Alabama to Newfoundland.
They arose about 100 million years before the evolution of land animals. They also existed off the Atlantic Ocean.
They are also decreasing in size because the tectonics that created them are no longer close to them. They were once very large, but erosion has reduced their height.
This mountain range has three main sections: southern, central and northern. The Appalachian Mountains are the rough boundary between the eastern United States and the Midwest. The Blue Ridge Mountains are one of the oldest parts of the Appalachian Mountains, possibly over a billion years old.
There are different animals that are found in different places in these mountains. Some notable creatures include black bears, jumping spies, eastern copperheads, timber rattlesnakes, North American cougars, and eastern wolves.
In spring, wildflowers draw tourists to the Appalachian Mountains. In April, flowers such as laurel, azaleas and rhododendrons begin to bloom in the south of the mountains. This trend continues throughout the spring.
Due to the isolation of some highlanders in the Appalachian Mountains, a separate culture developed. Folklore and music are examples of the unique developments that took place in these mountain communities.
1st place: Uwharrie Mountains aged 500 million years
These mountains in North Carolina are so old that their highest peak is only 1,100 feet. Originally they were 20,000 feet high. They were also originally on the coast and are now 150 miles inland.
In the past, these mountains were completely cleared for agriculture and logging. In 1961, President Kennedy declared these mountains a national forest, and native plant life has returned.
Located in the Uwharrie region, the North Carolina Zoo is one of two state-sponsored zoos in the United States. It was the first of the two federally sponsored zoos in the United States to be established.
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