Mount Shasta (Karuk: Úytaahkoo or "White Mountain")is a volcano located at the southern end of the Cascade Range in Siskiyou County, California. At 14,179 feet (4,322 m),it is the second highest peak in the Cascades and the fifth highest in California. Mount Shasta has an estimated volume of 85 cubic miles (350 km3) which makes it the most voluminous stratovolcano in the Cascade Volcanic Arc. The mountain and its surrounding area are managed by the U.S. Forest Service, Shasta-Trinity National Forest.
ount Shasta is not connected to any nearby mountain and dominates the northern California landscape. It rises abruptly and stands nearly 10,000 ft (3,000 m) above the surrounding terrain. On a clear winter day snowy Mount Shasta can be seen from the floor of the Central Valley 140 miles (230 km) south. The mountain has attracted the attention of poets, authors, and presidents.
The southwestern face of Mount Shasta as seen from I-5. The mountain consists of four overlapping volcanic cones which have built a complex shape, including the main summit and the prominent satellite cone of 12,330 ft (3,760 m) Shastina, which has a visibly conical form. If Shastina were a separate mountain, it would rank as the fourth-highest peak of the Cascade Range (after Mount Rainier, Rainier's Liberty Cap, and Mount Shasta itself).
Mount Shasta's surface is relatively free of deep glacial erosion except, paradoxically, for its south side where Sargents Ridge runs parallel to the U-shaped Avalanche Gulch. This is the largest glacial valley on the volcano, although it does not presently have a glacier in it. There are seven named glaciers on Mount Shasta, with the four largest (Whitney, Bolam, Hotlum, and Wintun) radiating down from high on the main summit cone to below 10,000 ft (3,000 m) primarily on the north and east sides. The Whitney Glacier is the longest and the Hotlum is the most voluminous glacier in the state of California. Three of the smaller named glaciers occupy cirques near and above 11,000 ft (3,400 m) on the south and southeast sides, including the Watkins, Konwakiton, and Mud Creek Glaciers.
The oldest known human habitation in the area dates to about 7,000 years ago, and by about 5,000 years ago, there was substantial human habitation in the surrounding area. At the time of Euro-American contact in the 1820s, the Native American tribes who lived within view of Mount Shasta included the Shasta, Okwanuchu, Modoc, Achomawi, Atsugewi, Karuk, Klamath, Wintu, and Yanatribes.
The historic eruption of Mount Shasta in 1786 may have been observed by Lapérouse, but this is disputed. Although perhaps first seen by Spanish explorers, the first reliably reported land sighting of Mount Shasta by a European or American was by Peter Skene Ogden (a leader of a Hudson's Bay Company trapping brigade) in 1826. In 1827, the name "Sasty" or "Sastise" was given to nearby Mount McLoughlin by Ogden. The name was transferred to present-day Mount Shasta in 1841, partly as a result of work by the United States Exploring Expedition. Beginning in the 1820s, Mount Shasta was a prominent landmark along what became known as the Siskiyou Trail, which runs at Mount Shasta's base. The Siskiyou Trail was located on the track of an ancient trade and travel route of Native American footpaths between California's Central Valley and the Pacific Northwest. The California Gold Rush brought the first Euro-American settlements into the area in the early 1850s, including at Yreka, California and Upper Soda Springs. The first recorded ascent of Mount Shasta occurred in 1854 (by Elias Pearce), after several earlier failed attempts. In 1856, the first women (Harriette Eddy, Mary Campbell McCloud, and their party) reached the summit.
Clarence King exploring theWhitney Glacier in 1870. This was the first glacier in the continental United States discovered and named. It was named for Josiah Whitney, head of the California Geological Survey. By the 1860s and 1870s, Mount Shasta was the subject of scientific and literary interest. A book by California pioneer and entrepreneur James Hutchings, titled Scenes of Wonder and Curiosity in California, contained an account of an early summit trip in 1855. The summit was achieved (or nearly achieved) by John Muir, Josiah Whitney, Clarence King, and John Wesley Powell. In 1877, Muir wrote a dramatic popular article about an experience in which he survived an overnight blizzard on Mount Shasta by lying in the hot sulfur springs found near the summit.
The 1887 completion of the Central Pacific Railroad, built along the line of the Siskiyou Trail between California and Oregon, brought a substantial increase in tourism, lumbering, and population into the area around Mount Shasta. Early resorts and hotels, such as Shasta Springs, grew up along the Siskiyou Trail around Mount Shasta, catering to these early adventuresome tourists and mountaineers. In the early Twentieth century, the Pacific Highway followed the track of the Siskiyou Trail to the base of Mount Shasta, leading to still more access to the mountain. Today's version of the Siskiyou Trail, Interstate 5, brings thousands of people a year to Mount Shasta.
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