The 1875 map resulted from a survey led by an engineer named T.H. Barrett. Historiographer James Cloud is of the opinion that a draughtsmen copied this map and mis-read the 'A' for an 'O'. A persistent legend persists that a member of that first exploring party was British or Bostonian.
This member awakened early one morning in the survey camp on the knoll located east of the area and saw the sun on the glistening clear crystals of Selenite. In his long eastern dialect he exclaimed "Why they look just like glaws".
The party's cartographer simply recorded what he thought he had heard, indeed a passing error. But to think a Brit' may have been responsible for all this confusion!
The Glass or Gloss Mountains are located 6 miles west of Orienta in NW Oklahoma, which is on highway US 412. We pass through them regularly whenever I am in need of our closest shopping mall in Enid, 110 miles away!
The mountains have a high selenite content, making them appear as if they were covered with pieces of glass. Ever since my first visit here in 2003, I have absolutely loved their beauty and contrast against the flat plains around them.
This beautiful scenic strip, currently defined as a conservation area, is almost another world with its rugged high topped mesas springing up from a relatively flat land area.
A "painted desert" effect can be seen in many locations due to the exposure of different rock strata, and the sparkle of gypsum and selenite gives many of the mesas a glittering effect.
A giant inland sea once covered the area, leaving behind extensive gypsum beds. Spanish explorers passed through the area and later, the first known American explorer around 1821 described what he called "The Shining Mountains".
Today, the Glass Mountains area is utilized for its vast oil and gas resources. This 640 acre expanse is undergoing development as a State Park and will eventually provide trails and facilities.
At present, visitors can pull off the highway to enjoy the rugged landscape at a small roadside picnic area with an information kiosk on the history and features of the locale.
Astronomy groups occasionally use the area for celestial observations, as dark really means dark out there! Visitors can enjoy the 24 mile scenic drive along U.S. Hwy 412 through this very distinctive area. Here's the Hubster doing his best 'hunky cowboy' impression (which is of course is what he is!), as he reads about the area on a perfect day.
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