Wednesday, July 30, 2014


My initial "Oklahoma Blog" centered on the eastern one-third of Oklahoma, home of deciduous trees, Mississippian and Pennsylvanian rocks, coal mines, a coastal plain, large lakes, the Ouachita and Ozark Mountains, and the lead-zinc mines.  In this Blog I move further west where the middle third of the state is dominated by exposures of late Pennsylvanian and Permian rocks, many of which are red in color.  The Panhandle region has exposures of dinosaur-containing Mesozoic rocks along with a Tertiary cover and a few basalt flows.  Interrupting this logical sequence of rocks are two interesting “mountain” regions—the Arbuckle Mountains south of Oklahoma City and the Wichita Mountains in the southwest near Lawton---subjects for my next Blog.

Geologic map of Oklahoma (from Oklahoma Geological Survey).  Note the light blue streak (Permian) trending north-south through the state.


Physiographic regions of Oklahoma (courtesy Oklahoma Geological Survey).  A the Arbuckle Mountains, W the Wichita Mountains, RB, the Permian redbeds, HP, the High Plains.  Compare with map above.

A more detailed province map of central Oklahoma (courtesy of Oklahoma Geological Survey).

To better understand the geology and related landforms of Oklahoma, readers should keep in mind above maps.
The sandstone cuestas (Spanish for cliffs) region has gently dipping, to the west, sandstone layers protecting underlying, slope-forming shale layers.  The sandstone of the province is late Pennsylvanian in age and was formed as flowing rivers carried sand and other sediments into deltas and estuaries of  an ocean.  These sandstone hills are quite scenic with a somewhat distinct flora and fauna and extend into Kansas as the Chautauqua Hills.  The dipping beds of the cuestas are associated with the large Ozark dome to the east.  I have collected some nice tree-fern fossils in the northern reaches of the province but mostly I just visited the area for the scenic beauty and camping, noting the old-growth forests of post oak and blackjack oak with blooming redbuds in the spring.

In Kansas, the Flint Hills are one of the major physiographic provinces in the state (trending north-south) and provide a unique landscape of native tallgrass prairie in a rocky and hilly terrain with major relief (at least for the plains states).  In Oklahoma this province is known as the Limestone Hills (also The Osage or the Limestone Cuestas) and only extend about one-third of the way south.  The Flint Hills/The Osage have marine early Permian rocks exposed and are quite fossiliferous.  I have not collected in the Osage but have pulled hundreds/thousands of fossils from the Flint Hills in Kansas.  For 20 plus years I took my undergraduate invertebrate paleontology class to the Flint Hills and students routinely collected over 100 different species from Permian rocks.

Cartoon showing configuration of continents at the end of the Paleozoic Era.  Note how Africa and South America collided with North America and produced the Appalachian and Ouachita Mountains.  Public Domain map.

The later Permian represents the end of the great Paleozoic seaway in the U.S. where marine waters that had covered parts/most of the continent since the late Precambrian were receding and drying.  Plate activity had moved continents world-wide so that a single large continent, Pangaea, was formed and, except for continental margins, marine waters receded from the (current) North American continent.  The later Permian represented the culmination of the Appalachian-Ouachita Orogen where Gondwana was attached/sutured to (current) North America.  As the Permian seas were drying and receding the continent experienced restricted circulation waters and widespread deposition of halite and other “salts” and gypsum.  In addition, wind and fluvial (stream) deposits containing grains of iron-rich minerals later “rusted” and created the color in the widespread redbeds trending north-south through the center of the state.  As these beds extend north into Kansas they are known as the Red or Gyp Hills.  I have examined the gypsum, anhydrite, and dolomite but found them rather uninteresting as mineral specimens and “left them in place.” 

Now, I have to admit that my experience with the central Oklahoma redbeds essentially has been driving I-35 south to the Arbuckles or Texas Cretaceous!  About the only prospecting accomplished has been to look for the barite roses.  Of  course, I suppose these concretions are the best-known mineral in this part of the state.  
Barite rose collected near Norman from Permian Garber Formation.  Width of left single rose ~3.5 cm.

There are several instances where minerals, mostly calcite, barite, and selenite gypsum, have formed clusters of crystal “roses” or sand crystals.  In some case the roses are formed from “pure” minerals, with maybe an encrustation of sand grains, such as the selenite roses (Desert Roses) from St. David, Arizona (see Blog Feb. 4, 2013).  However, in parts of northwestern Nebraska the selenite roses have been replaced by chalcedony.
In other cases the mineral solution carries along sand-size grains from the host rock as inclusions.  London (2008), in an article in The Mineralogical Record, noted that “roses are mineral specimens, not rocks, because the shapes of rocks are indeterminate, whereas the shapes of minerals are determined by a combination of forms and habits derived from the interplay of crystal structure and environment of growth.”  Each of the petals of the rose are individual barite crystals.  The Oklahoma roses are due to the “intergrowth of crystals of barite…into a cluster of divergent blades… The rose-like concretions incorporated the iron-stained quartz sand grains and thus acquired the red color of the host Garber Sandstone” (Tulsa Geoscience Center, 2012).  The Oklahoma Geological Survey (London, 2009) noted that “the best explanation for the roses is that deep basinal groundwater containing barium and reduced sulfur species (sulfide) migrated upward along fractures and porous layers into the Garbar Sandstone.  Upon reaching an aerated region, the sulfur in the groundwater was then oxidized from sulfide to sulfate, leading to the precipitation of barite.”

Barite roses were designated as the official “State Rock” in 1968.  It seems unfortunate that no mineralogist (or so it seems) told Governor Bartlett and the legislature that barite roses are minerals, as opposed to rocks.  But, life goes on!

In Kansas, the red to orange barite roses are similar except they have been collected from the Cretaceous Kiowa Formation (see Blog July 23, 2013) derived from barium-rich solutions in the underlying Permian rocks.

Barite Rose collected many years ago near the hamlet of Bavaria, Kansas, in Cretaceous rocks. Width ~6 cm.

Calcite sand crystals are similar to the barite roses except the form takes on the shape of calcite crystals.  I suppose the most famous locality for collecting these latter crystals has been Rattlesnake Butte in South Dakota (now off-limits see Blog Jan. 9, 2014) although some crystals have started to come from Wyoming (see Blog Dec. 17, 2011). 

The further west one goes in Oklahoma, the less time I have spent in the region other than traveling south to the Wichita Mountains or to southwestern Texas where my son attended a university.  A long time ago (my favorite phrase) I did take my students to: 1) Alabaster Caverns State Park; and 2) the Great Salt Plains.  The cave is formed in Permian age massive gypsum and is a solution cavity.  In my home state of Kansas a few miles to the north, there are large sinkholes such as Big Basin that are related to subsurface dissolution of similar age gypsum and halite.  At one time, before collapse, a large natural bridge near Sun City was 35 feet wide, 55 feet long, and 12 feet above stream level.  In addition, there are at least 117 gypsum caves in Barber County (Kansas Geological Survey, 2013). 
The second place that we visited was the well-known Great Salt Plains near the Arkansas River to dig and collect selenite gypsum crystals--there is both a state park and a federal wildlife refuge and collecting is on the refuge and hours/days etc. are posted.  Check ahead before you drive to collect!
Big Basin is a sinkhole  south of Dodge City, Kansas.  Permian halite and gypsum beds in the subsurface have dissolved allowing the surficial Ogallala Formation to collapse.
As it appears to me, the salt plains are essentially a playa with incoming fresh water, at times, but without an outlet.  The original source of the salt and gypsum are beds in the underlying Permian rocks---as noted above, the great Paleozoic seaway was receding and drying and evaporation of brine waters left behind a number or different minerals.  In the playa, the saline- and gypsum-infused groundwater is usually a few inches to to few feet below the surface.  If the groundwater reaches the surface for a short duration but then evaporates a crust of halite forms while the gypsum crystals form below the surface. These selenite crystals at the salt plains are sort of a chocolate brown to orange color due to minor amounts of iron oxide used as a coloring agent.  What makes the crystals unique is that they have included tiny sand grains and these grains are in the shape of a hourglass!  Some crystals are covered by a thin layer of sand while others are quite transparent and the included sand grains are clearly observed.  According to all references I could locate, this is the only locality in the world where this hourglass inclusion occurs.  I don’t have the slightest idea “why” and it appears that other geologists are also “stumped” at the shape of the inclusions.  At times the crystals are solitary, sometimes they are twinned (penetration twins common), and many times are in clusters. A gazillion of these crystals have been collected since they are “for sale” in virtually every rock/mineral shop, and in the rock and mineral shows.  But they are also fun to collect if you don’t mind getting a little muddy during the process. 

Penetrating twin hourglass selenite with sand inclusions.  Length ~4.0 cm.  In 2005 Oklahoma designated hourglass selenite as the official State Crystal.

Along the Cimarron and Canadian Rivers a hummocky terrain of both grass covered (stabilized) and active sand dunes is found.  Most of the dune fields are on the north side of the rivers as a southern wind blows sand- and silt-size grains from the current alluvium and the older terrace deposits.  These dune fields are similar to the large fields on the north side of the "big bend" of the Arkansas River.  
I have always had an interest in history, and especially of western U.S history between ~1800 (Lewis and Clark) to ~ 1890 (Wounded Knee).  This was a time of great conflict between representatives of the federal government and the Native Americans.  Since I grew up in Ottawa County Kansas I have been particularly interested in the summer of 1868 when Southern Cheyennes and some of their allies raided settlements along the Saline and Solomon rivers (I grew up fishing in these rivers) killing several Caucasian settlers.  Partially as a result of these raids General Phillip Sheridan, Commander of the U.S. Army’s Department of Missouri, an area of over a million square miles between the Rocky Mountains and the Mississippi, decided to conduct a winter campaign against the “insurgents.”  In this manner he hoped to destroy food stores and horses along with people and housing at a time when the Native Americans were usually semi-permanently camped for the winter.  In late 1868 Sheridan sent Lt. Colonel George A. Custer on a winter mission to subdue the Southern Cheyenne in western Oklahoma.  At the ensuing battle or massacre (I will not get into that argument) on November 27, 1868, Custer destroyed the village of, and killed, the Cheyenne Peace Chief Black Kettle at an encampment along the Washita River in the redbed plains of far western Oklahoma.  If readers ever get a chance, take a side trip and visit the national monument.  

About where the Panhandle “hooks on to” the main segment of Oklahoma the Plains Border section of the Great Plains Physiographic Province ends and the large High Plains section begins.  At one time in the late Tertiary the Ogallala Formation (Group) extended from the Rocky Mountains (the source for its sediments) eastward to the Missouri River and beyond.  However, uplift to the west, and erosion by rivers on all sides, has essentially left the High Plains as an island, one that is capped by the Ogallala Formation.  Today the High Plains extend from the Pine Ridge Escarpment along the South Dakota-Nebraska border south to the breaks at the Edwards Plateau in Texas.  The western boundary is situated at the eroded breaks along the mountain front (such as the Colorado Piedmont).  In the east the formation feathers and thins and the High Plains end.  Most people know about the High Plains as being the source of the rapidly depleting Ogallala Aquifer.  Exposures of the Ogallala Formation are common in the Panhandle. 
A very unique geological area is located in the far western Panhandle of Oklahoma and much geology is preserved in Black Mesa State Park and the surrounding area along the Cimarron River where rocks from the Triassic to Recent are well-exposed.  Triassic and Jurassic rocks in the Great Plains are relatively rare east of New Mexico and Colorado as are Cenozoic volcanics.  However, a nice section of of the Triassic Dockum Group and the overlying Entrada and Morrison Formations of Jurassic age crop out in the area.  Of additional interest are the remains of dinosaurs, both body fossils and ichnofossils (dinosaur tracks), from the Morrison.  Most people with even a slight interest in natural history usually associate dinosaur fossils with places like Dinosaur National Monument and the Cleveland-Lloyd Quarry in Utah, and Canon City and Dinosaur Ridge in Colorado.  However, an Oklahoma geologist by the name of Willis Stovall collected thousands of dinosaur bones from the Morrison around Black Mesa in the late 1930’s and early 1940’s.  Today most of these fossils reside in the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History.

One particular dinosaur collected by Stovall from near Black Mesa was designated in 2000 as the State Fossil of Oklahoma.  Saurophaganax maximus is a large theropod (meat-eating) maybe 50 feet in length and 17+ feet tall.  It is most likely related to the allosaurs, the dominant theropods of the Morrison.  A cast of a front claw is shown below.

Terminal phalanx or claw of Saurophaganax maximus (cast replica).

I once participated in a field trip to the area, mainly to examine the exposures of Cretaceous rocks.  This section is very similar to the Cretaceous rocks in Kansas, the big difference being the aerially widespread exposures in Kansas compared to quite limited outcrops in Oklahoma.  The oldest Cretaceous units are the Cheyenne Sandstone, a fluvial sandstone (mostly), overlain by the marine Kiowa Shale.  The latter formation is quite interesting is that it contains a “southern” assemblage of invertebrate fossils.  That is, marine waters invaded the continent from the south and the resulting rocks contain fossils normally associated with Gulf Coast Cretaceous rocks in Texas. 

Marine waters then retreated south and the mostly non-marine (wind, stream, delta, estuary) Dakota Formation was deposited.  Some units in the formation contain dinosaur tracks (similar to Dinosaur Ridge in Colorado).
The widespread Western Interior Seaway (WIS) is represented in Oklahoma by the Graneros and Greenhorn Formations (calcareous shales and limestones) overlying the Dakota.  Invertebrate fossils such as coiled ammonites and straight-shelled baculites, along with inoceramid bivalves, are abundant.  The WIS had marine waters transgressing from both the north and the south and the resulting northern fauna is completely different from fossils found in the Kiowa Shale.

Image of Mesa de Maya and Black Mesa, Colorado, New Mexico and Oklahoma.  Image © Google Earth.

One of the best known structures in south-central/southwestern Colorado is the Raton Mesas starting near Trinidad and continuing eastward along the Colorado-New Mexico state line where thick (~800 feet) late Tertiary basalt flows (~3.5--9.0 Ma) cap the Poison Canyon Formation (Tertiary: Paleocene) and hold up the topography.  The area, including Barella Mesa and Johnson Mesa, is often referred to as the Raton-Clayton Volcanic Field since the basalt extends as far east as Clayton, New Mexico.  Near Trinidad, Fishers Peak (9626 feet) is the highest point in the United States east of I-25.  Further east on the plains, “near” Tobe, and Walt’s Corner, Colorado,  is an isolated, but related, mesa termed Mesa de Maya where 400-500 feet of basalt cover the Ogallala Formation at an elevation of around 6500 feet.  The Mesa continues south and eastward as Black Mesa and actually extends into the Oklahoma Panhandle where at 4973 feet it is the highest point in Oklahoma.  Suneson and Luza (1999) believe the age of the capping basalt flow at Black Mesa is ~5 Ma.

For additional reading see:
Publications, many available as PDF files, of the Oklahoma Geological Survey at:
Neil Suneson, 2010, Petrified Wood in Oklahoma: The Shale Shaker, v 60, no.6.
Common Fossils of Oklahoma, Sam Noble Museum:
Oklahoma Crystal Collecting:


Anonomous, 2013, Red Hills: Rocks and Minerals: Geofacts, Kansas Geological Survey. 

London, D., 2008, The Barite Roses of Oklahoma:  the Mineralogical Record.

London, D., 2009, The Barite Rose; State Rock of Oklahoma: Oklahoma Geological Survey.

Tulsa Geoscience Center, 2012, Barite Rose: Our State Rock:

Suneson, N. H. and K. V. Luza, 1999, A Field Trip Guide to the Geology of the Black Mesa State Park Area, Cimarron County, Oklahoma: Oklahoma Geological Survey Open-file Report OF4-99.


Living and teaching in western Kansas did not allow much interaction with either igneous or metamorphic rocks, nor with Paleozoic rocks older than the Mississippian (and these age rocks are restricted to the southeastern most 50 sq. miles of the state).  So, what to do?  How could a geology student become better acquainted with rocks that are not Tertiary, Cretaceous, Permian or Pennsylvanian in age?  Well, it seemed like an easy answer—road trip!  So off we went either south or west, depending upon the time of year.  In early fall the Colorado mountains were beautiful with color and outcrops vacant of people. During the spring semester Colorado was often cool-cold and snow lingered in the high country.  Therefore, Oklahoma to the south seemed like a good choice.  And, the most interesting places to visit were the Wichita Mountains in the southwest, and the Arbuckle Mountains in the south central part of the state.

 Geologic map of Oklahoma (from Oklahoma Geological Survey).  The Arbuckle Mountains are located to the south of Oklahoma City (and a little east) while the Wichita Mountains are to the southwest. Both appear on the map as isolated “blobs.”

These two ranges present some very interesting stratigraphy and geologists still seem to be debating about the origin of the “basement rocks” cropping out in the mountains.  If readers would travel to Colorado or Wyoming or New Mexico (and other western states) they would note that the oldest rocks, especially in the Laramide front ranges, are Precambrian in age—older than ~542 Ma.  However, the igneous rocks, lots of rhyolite, granite and diorite, in the Wichita Mountains are perhaps latest Precambrian (Neoproterozoic: 1000Ma to 542 Ma) but are mostly Cambrian in age, something younger than ~542 Ma. And, that is the really interesting part .

Location of the Southern Oklahoma Rift System penetrating the continent at about 90 degrees to the edge of the continent.  Map taken from Hansen and others, 2011.  

The Wichita Mountains are situated in the southwestern part of Oklahoma  and actually have some relief, maybe 500 to 1100 feet, and dominate the topography.  I remember climbing Mt. Scott  at ~2462 feet and essentially the highest peak in the range; Mt. Pinchot at 2479 feet is on a special area of the wildlife refuge and off limits to visitors, while Haley Peak on private property is 2481 (maybe). The oldest rocks in the Wichitas are known as the Tillman “metasedimentry group” and represent latest Precambrian-early Cambrian marine sandstones that are now turned to quartzite.  However, beginning at about the same time as their deposition, massive volcanism and plutonic placement of granite was beginning in a structural basin termed the Southern Oklahoma Rift System (SORS).  Some geologists argue that the SORS sequence represents a sea floor spreading event, a rift-rift-rift triple junction, with one arm extending into the old proto-North American continent (known to geologists as Laurentia) while the other two arms are now obscured by ocean basins (Hansen and others, 2011).  The Oklahoma arm has been  given the name Southern Oklahoma Aulacogen or Wichita Aulacogen since the arm ultimately failed (an aulacogen). However, Thomas (2011) believed the plutonic events are part of a large fault zone extending inward into the proto continent.  These magmatic rocks in Oklahoma also seem related to other igneous events stretching from New Mexico to Utah and Colorado.  Whatever the cause, the igneous rocks in southwestern Oklahoma (latest Precambrian? to Cambrian in age) represent a major tectonic event along the southern margin of proto North America; the older Raggedy Mountain gabbro group and the Navajoe Mountain basalt group are unconformably overlain by the widespread Carleton Rhyolite Group and the intrusive Wichita Mountain Granite Group.  The latter two units are the igneous rocks that form the rugged mountains and are well exposed and easy to observe.  All in all, the Wichitas are a great place to visit, to observe the buffalo (bison) at the wildlife preserve, and see some igneous “basement” rocks that are not Precambrian in age.

 Mt Scott in the Wichita Mountains is the most easily accessible peak in the Range. Public Domain photo.

Map showing location of the Wichita Mountains in southwestern Oklahoma.  Igneous rocks dominate the mountains in the south, near Fort Sill, and are the most visited section.  North of the Meers Fault there are large exposures of the Ordovician (488-443 Ma) Arbuckle Group limestones.  Map taken from Hansen and others, 2011.
Mt. Sheridan with granite (light-colored) overlying dark-colored gabbro.  Public Domain photo.
Starting before the conclusion of the Wichita magmatic event, and continuing after, sediments begin to erode from the surrounding highlands into the rift or fault basin (SORS).  In addition, marine sedimentary rocks, limestone, sandstone, shale, were deposited, on and off, in Oklahoma from late Cambrian through the early Mississippian (~359-345 Ma).  By the late Mississippian (~328-318 Ma), SORS was rapidly subsiding and filling with clastic particles later forming a shale.

By the Pennsylvanian (beginning ~311 Ma ) “things” begin to change in Oklahoma as a result of what is termed the Ouachita Orogeny—plates of South America and Africa bumping in to the southern margin of North America.  In Arkansas and parts of eastern Oklahoma (see previous Blog) the collision resulted in formation of thrusted and folded mountains called the Ouachita Mountains.  In the Mountain West states, the collisional event produced large block fault mountains—the Ancestral Rocky Mountains.  And in southern Oklahoma, the old SORS was no longer accepting sediments but was activated by vertical uplift and faulting into a highland area and shedding off large clasts that later cemented into sandstones and conglomerates.  The erosion continued into the early part of the Permian (~251 Ma) but by but the late Permian (~290 Ma) the mountains (uplifted SORS) were covered and buried by sediments.  Jurassic and Triassic (~228-145 Ma) rocks are virtually unknown from western Oklahoma and Cretaceous (~145-65 Ma) rocks were probably deposited but are mostly eroded away.  The current Wichita Mountains are the result of landforms that were established in the Pennsylvanian/Permian and brought to light with Cenozoic erosion. 

The Arbuckle Mountains are almost straight south of Oklahoma City along I-25 north of the Texas-Oklahoma border.  These hills are not really very high, ~1400 feet, there is not much relief—perhaps 600 feet, but they represent a different sort of environment and are popular with visitors. They do have some old rocks and one time on a field trip I was able to visit a large granite quarry in the Tishomingo Granite, ~1.4 Ga.  These rocks are, in turn, overlain by the Cambrian Carleton Rhyolite (seen in the Wichitas), and maybe 15,000 feet of Paleozoic rocks (mostly marine).  The Arbuckles have a similar geological history as the Wichitas and they were both part of the SORS.  The big difference is that in the Wichitas, igneous rocks predominate while in the Arbuckles sedimentary rocks are common, and many are quite fossiliferous.  In addition, the USGS noted “the Arbuckles contain the most diverse suite of mineral resources in Oklahoma: limestone, dolomite, glass sand, granite, sand and gravel, shale, cement, iron ore, lead, zinc, tar sands, and oil and gas; all these minerals are, or have been, produced commercially” (

Honey Creek, originally producing from a spring(s), drops 77 feet at Turner Falls (near Davis) and is probably the most photographed feature in Oklahoma.  Public Domain photo.

The geologic stories of the Wichita and Arbuckle mountains are much too complex for a short article like this.  Unfortunately, I had to use much geological jargon in the paragraphs above, and for this apologize. I did try to insert approximate dates for the geological terms indicated by Ma=millions of years ago. I guess an easy way to look at their history: 1) rifting and/or faulting with accumulation of Cambrian igneous rocks; 2) stable continent and accumulation of mostly marine rocks from  Cambrian-early Pennsylvanian; 3) uplift of the SORS in late Pennsylvanian from tensional forces of the nearby Ouachita Orogeny; 4) erosion in the Cenozoic producing current landforms that were first established in the late Paleozoic.
I have to admit that my visits to the Arbuckle and Wichita Mountains were many decades ago when collecting by rockhounds and students were in much different circumstances.  We simply contacted quarry owners by mail, received permission (especially for non-working weekends), and collected invertebrate fossils to our heart’s content.  In addition, everyone took home a few pieces of granite since the only igneous outcrops in western Kansas were at local cemeteries.  As a result, I really don’t have fossil specimens (in museum collections) or minerals from either the Arbuckle or Wichita Mountains and could not inform readers about any collecting localities. 

In addition, the Oklahoma Geological Survey will allow you to download: copies of Guidebook 26, Geology of the Arbuckle Mountains along I-35, Carter and Murray Counties Oklahoma (Robert O. Fay).  The publication describes the geology at the numerous road cuts along I-35 north of the city of Ardmore; Guidebook 21, Geology of the Eastern Wichita Mountains, Southwestern Oklahoma (Gilbert and Donavan); Guidebook 23, Petrology of the Cambrian Wichita Mountains Igneous Suite (Gilbert); and Guidebook 24, The Slick Hills of Southwestern Oklahoma—Fragments of an Aulacogen (Donovan).  The Slick Hills are the limestone part of the Wichita Mountains located north of the Meers fault.  Go to  Finally, the last time that I traversed through the Arbuckle Mountains the Ardmore Geological Society had installed informative information on a number of road signs.  I presume they are still along the highway.

SOME TRIVIA:  Much land in the igneous rock part of the Wichita Mountains is tied up in the Wichita Mountains National Wildlife Refuge (~60,000 acres).  President William McKinley, in 1901, established the mountains as a “”Forest Reserve.”  It took President Theodore Roosevelt, in 1905, to designate it as a "Game Preserve,” the forerunner of the federal refuge system.  In fact, the refuge is the oldest in the nation.  One of the critical reasons for the establishment of the refuge was to protect endangered species.  Bison, six bulls and nine cows, were introduced in 1907 with stock coming from the New York Zoological Park.  Texas Longhorn Cattle were also introduced to help preserve the “purity” of the strain.  Unfortunately, the original Oklahoma elk subspecies, Merriam’s I think, is extinct so the Refuge imported Rocky Mountain Elk in 1911.  There were also a number of other smaller mammals and birds introduced to this protective island. 

REAL TRIVIA:  Shortly after McKinley’s designation of the Forest Reserve he was assassinated by an anarchist in in 1901.  He was succeeded by his Vice President, Roosevelt.  McKinley was the last President to serve in the Civil War.

AND MORE: An assassin also tried to take down Roosevelt in 1912 as he was campaigning for a third term as President running in the Progressive Party (vernacular—Bull Moose Party). The bullet (32 caliber) went through his steel eyeglass case and 50 pages of a speech (Roosevelt was a realer talker) and three inches of his chest, but did not penetrate his pleura.  Roosevelt gave his speech (Ladies and gentlemen, I don't know whether you fully understand that I have just been shot; but it takes more than that to kill a Bull Moose) with blood staining his shirt and carried the bullet around forever (too dangerous to remove).  
Roosevelt entered the presidency via an assassin’s bullet while another would-be assassin’s bullet ended his campaigning right before the 1912 election and therefore his chance to re-enter the office.  Now, that is real trivia. 

According to the Oklahoma Historical Society (2014) Spanish mining activity existed in the Wichitas as early as the mid-1700’s.  Evidently they were not very successful.  However, in the 1890’s prospectors wandering around in the granite found evidence of these old Spanish mines (and I use the term mine quite loosely).  By 1895 a “gold rush” was on to the Wichitas but, in a similar situation as the Black Hills of South Dakota, the land was part of the Kiowa-Comanche-Apache Indian Reservation.  As usual, miners and settlers put pressure on the U.S. Congress and by 1901 the Reservation was open to settlement and mining (a question—was this why McKinley designated the Forest Preserve?).  In the next 10 years over 2000 gold claims were filed with no one, as far as I can tell, “getting rich,” except some promoters.  A few surface veins were located and holes/mines penetrated into the granite but nothing really paid.

Comancheria, the ancestral home of the various Comanche tribes and bands, occupied much of Texas, Oklahoma, and New Mexico. Perhaps their most famous warrior was Quanah Parker of the Noconis Band.  Parker was the son of Cynthia Ann Parker, a captured Caucasian from Texas, and Peta Nocona.  Most historians, but not all, believe Quanah was born (ca.1850) in or near the Wichita Mountains.      

Hanson, R.E., R.E. Puckett, Jr., D.A. McCleery, M.E. Brueseke, C.L. Bulen, and S.A. Mertzman, 2011, The Cambrian Wichita Bimodal large Igneous Province in the Southern Oklahoma Rift Zone: Large Igneous Provinces Commission

Oklahoma Historical Society, 2014, Gold:  Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture,

Thomas, W.A., 2011, The Iapetan Rifted Margin of Southern Laurentia: Geosphere, v. 7.