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Encyclopedia > Loess Hills
Snow geese flying in front of the loess hills at Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuge in the Missouri River bottoms near Mound City, Missouri
Snow geese flying in front of the loess hills at Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuge in the Missouri River bottoms near Mound City, Missouri

The Loess Hills are a formation of wind-deposited loess soil in the westernmost part of Iowa and Missouri along the Missouri River. Image File history File linksMetadata Download high-resolution version (1647x513, 139 KB) Snow geese migration over loess hills at Squaw Creek Wildlife Refuge. ... Image File history File linksMetadata Download high-resolution version (1647x513, 139 KB) Snow geese migration over loess hills at Squaw Creek Wildlife Refuge. ... Binomial name Chen caerulescens (Linnaeus, 1758) Subspecies (Lesser Snow Goose) (Greater Snow Goose) Synonyms Anser caerulescens The Snow Goose (Chen caerulescens) is a North American species of goose. ... Panorama Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuge in Northwestern Missouri, USA, was established in 1935 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt as a refuge and breeding ground for migratory birds and other wildlife. ... This article or section does not adequately cite its references or sources. ... For the American hard rock band, see Soil (band). ... This article or section does not adequately cite its references or sources. ... Official language(s) English Capital Jefferson City Largest city Kansas City Largest metro area St. ...

Contents

Geology

The Loess Hills are generally located between 1 and 15 miles east of the Missouri River channel. These hills are the first rise in land beyond the flood plain, forming something of a "front range" for Iowa, and parts of Missouri and Nebraska adjacent to the Missouri River. The Missouri River is a tributary of the Mississippi River in the United States. ... It has been suggested that this article or section be merged with Floodplain. ...


During the Ice Age, glaciers advanced into the middle of North America, grinding underlying rock into dust-like "glacial flour". As temperatures warmed, the glaciers retreated and vast amounts of meltwater and sediment flooded the Missouri River valley. The sediment was deposited on the flood plain, creating huge mud flats. When meltwaters receded, these mud flats were exposed. As they dried, the fine-grained silt was picked up by strong prevailing westerly winds. Huge dust clouds were moved and redeposited over broad areas. The heavier, coarser silt was deposited close to the Missouri River flood plain, forming vast dune fields. The dune fields were eventually stabilized by grass. Due to the erosive nature of loess soil and its ability to stand in vertical columns when dry, the stabilized dunes were eroded into the corrugated, sharply-dissected bluffs we see today. Variations in CO2, temperature and dust from the Vostok ice core over the last 400 000 years For the animated movie, see Ice Age (movie). ... A glacier is a large, persistent body of ice, formed largely of compacted layers of snow, that slowly deforms and flows in response to gravity. ... Rock flour consists of clay sized particles of rock generated by glacial erosional actions. ... It has been suggested that this article or section be merged with Floodplain. ... Mudflats are relatively flat, muddy regions found in intertidal areas. ... Silt is soil or rock derived granular material of a specific grain size. ... The prevailing winds are the trends in speed and direction of wind over a particular point on the earths surface. ... For the Frank Herbert novel, see Dune (novel) Mesquite Flat Dunes in Death Valley National Park In physical geography, a dune is a hill of sand built by eolian processes. ...


The dominant features of this landscape are "peak and saddle" topography, "razor ridges" (narrow ridges, often less than ten feet wide, which fall off at near ninety-degree angles on either side for 60 feet or more), and "cat-step" terraces (caused by the constant slumping and vertical sheering of the loess soil). The soil has a characteristic yellow hue and is generally broken down into several units based on the period of deposition (Loveland, Pisgah, Peoria). Loess is known locally as "sugar clay" because it can be extremely hard when dry, but when wet, loses all cohesion. The Loess Hills of Iowa are remarkable for the depth of the drift layer, often more than ninety feet deep. The only comparable deposits of loess to such an extent are located in Shaanxi, China.[1]   (Simplified Chinese: ; Traditional Chinese: ; pinyin: ShÇŽnxÄ«; Wade-Giles: Shan-hsi; Postal map spelling: Shensi) is a north-central province of the Peoples Republic of China, and includes portions of the Loess Plateau on the middle reaches of the Yellow River as well as the Qinling Mountains across the...


Geography

The part of the region in Missouri
The part of the region in Missouri

Today, these hills stretch from Westfield, Iowa in the north to Mound City, Missouri in the south. Loess topography can be found at various points in extreme eastern portions of Nebraska and Kansas along the Missouri River Valley, particularly near the Nebraska cities of Brownville, Rulo, Plattsmouth, Fort Calhoun, and Ponca. The hills are usually no more than 200 feet above the Missouri River bottoms. Image File history File links Size of this preview: 743 × 599 pixel Image in higher resolution (1429 × 1153 pixel, file size: 105 KB, MIME type: image/gif) Edited Image:Missouri counties. ... Image File history File links Size of this preview: 743 × 599 pixel Image in higher resolution (1429 × 1153 pixel, file size: 105 KB, MIME type: image/gif) Edited Image:Missouri counties. ... Westfield is a city located in Plymouth County, Iowa. ... Mound City is a city located in Holt County, Missouri. ... Brownville is a village located in Nemaha County, Nebraska. ... Rulo is a village located in Richardson County, Nebraska. ... Plattsmouth is a city located in Cass County, Nebraska. ... Fort Calhoun is a city located in Washington County, Nebraska. ... Ponca is a city located in Dixon County, Nebraska. ...


Biology

The Loess Hills have abundant oak-hickory hardwood forests and some of the last remaining stands of prairie grass in the region. The invasion of prairie and oak savanna areas by woodland species such as red cedar (not native to the Hills) is threatening the stability of the fragile soils, as well as diminishing the native ecosystems found there. The areas of native prairie are comprised of big bluestem and little bluestem, Indian grass, sideoats grama and forbs such as yucca, pasque flower and lead plant (false indigo). Many of the prairie species found in the Loess Hills are outside of their normal range of distribution, with plants like spiny-leafed yucca and prickly pear cactus being more common further west, in the Sand Hills of central Nebraska. In 1984, a previously undiscovered fern, the Prairie Moonwart, was discovered in the Hills and is thought to be endemic to the Hills. Common fauna of the modern Loess Hills include white-tail deer, coyote, wild turkey, badger, bobcat, red and gray fox, ringneck pheasant, bobwhite, and red-tailed hawk, some of which were introduced or encouraged by Euro-American settlers. Woodland species are also on the rise in the Loess Hills as the suppression of fire has led to an increase in habitat for forest-dwelling species. Fauna more typical of the pre-settlement Loess Hills, such as the prairie rattlesnake, great plains skink, plains pocket mouse, ornate box turtle and spadefoot toad, are becoming rare and even endangered due to habitat fragmentation as a result of increased development and suppression of fire in prairie remnants and oak savannas. Species such as bobcat have been rebounding, and mountain lions have been recorded in Southwest Iowa in the last decade. Historically, fauna also included American bison, prairie chicken, mule deer, elk, and gray wolf; these were extirpated by the late-nineteenth century. Natural vegetaton dominated by grasses Grass is a common word that generally describes a monocotyledonous green plant in the family Poaceae. ... Binomial name Andropogon gerardii Vitman Big Bluestem is a bunch grass that is native to much of the prairie and Great Plains regions of North America. ... Little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium), also called alkali grass or desert saltgrass, is a North American prairie grass. ... Indiangrass Indiangrass (Sorghastrum nutans), also called Indian Grass, is a North American prairie grass, and is the official state grass of Oklahoma. ... Binomial name Bouteloua curtipendula (Michx. ... A forb is a non-woody flowering plant that is not a grass. ... Species many, see text For the potato-like vegetable, see yuca. ... Species Pulsatilla alpina Pulsatilla halleri Pulsatilla patens Pulsatilla vernalis Pulsatilla vulgaris et al Pasque flowers (or pasqueflowers) are deciduous perennials that are found in short clumps in meadows and prairies of North America and Eurasia. ... Species See text. ... Species See text. ... Sand Hills from space, September 2001 The Sand Hills are a 19,600 mi² (50,960 km²) region of mixed-grass prairie in north-central Nebraska, covering just over one-fourth of the state. ... Binomial name Odocoileus virginianus Zimmermann, 1780 The White-tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus), also known as the Virginia Deer, is a medium sized deer found throughout the 48 contiguous states of the United States, southern Canada and as far south as Panama. ... Binomial name Canis latrans Say, 1823 Coyote range The coyte (Canis latrans, meaning barking dog) also prairie wolf [2]) is a member of the Canidae (dog) family and a close relative of the Gray Wolf. ... Binomial name Meleagris gallopavo Linnaeus, 1758 For other uses, see Wild Turkey (disambiguation). ... Genera  Arctonyx  Melogale  Meles  Mellivora  Taxidea For other uses, see Badger (disambiguation). ... Binomial name Lynx rufus (Schreber, 1777) The Bobcat (Lynx rufus) is a wild cat native to North America. ... Binomial name Vulpes vulpes Linnaeus, 1758 Red Fox range Synonyms Vulpes fulva, Vulpes fulvus The Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes) is generally the most familiar of the foxes. ... Binomial name Urocyon cinereoargenteus (Schreber, 1775) Gray Fox range The Gray Fox (Urocyon cinereoargenteus) is a species of canid ranging from southern Canada, throughout most of the lower United States and Central America, to Venezuela. ... Binomial name Phasianus colchicus Linnaeus, 1758 The Common Pheasant (Phasianus colchicus) is a gamebird in the pheasant family Phasianidae of the order Galliformes, gallinaceous birds. ... Binomial name Colinus virginianus (Linnaeus, 1758) The Bobwhite Quail or Northern Bobwhite, Colinus virginianus, is a ground_dwelling bird native to North America. ... Binomial name Buteo jamaicensis (Gmelin, 1788) The Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) is a large bird of prey which breeds from western Alaska and northern Canada to Panama and the West Indies. ... Species 27 species; see list of rattlesnake species and subspecies. ... Genera many—see text Skinks are the most diverse group of lizards. ... Species Perognathus alticola Perognathus amplus Perognathus fasciatus Perognathus flavescens Perognathus flavus Perognathus inornatus Perognathus longimembris Perognathus merriami Perognathus parvus Perognathus is a genus of pocket mouse. ... Genera Cuora Pyxidea Terrapene The box turtle is one of several species of turtles. ... A Spadefoot Toad can refer to: The European Spadefoot Toad The American Spadefoot Toads Category: ... Binomial name Puma concolor (Linnaeus, 1771) The puma (Puma concolor) is a type of large cat found in North, Central and South America. ... Binomial name Bison bison (Linnaeus, 1758) Subspecies B. b. ... Binomial name Tympanuchus cupido (Linnaeus, 1758) Subspecies Tympanuchus cupido attwateri Tympanuchus cupido cupido Tympanuchus cupido pinnatus The Greater Prairie Chicken, Tympanuchus cupido, is a large bird in the grouse family. ... Binomial name Odocoileus hemionus (Rafinesque, 1817) The mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus) is a deer whose habitat is in the western half of North America. ... Binomial name Cervus elaphus Linnaeus, 1758 Red Deer (Cervus elaphus) is one of the largest species of deer in the world. ... “Gray Wolves” redirects here. ... Alternative meaning: Nineteenth Century (periodical) (18th century — 19th century — 20th century — more centuries) As a means of recording the passage of time, the 19th century was that century which lasted from 1801-1900 in the sense of the Gregorian calendar. ...


The Missouri River valley had historically been a major migration corridor for birds, however, the channelization of the river and destruction of wetlands has led to a marked decline. However, the corridor still boasts one of the best areas to view raptor migrations on the continent. As air masses move off of the Great Plains, they sink into the Missouri River valley. The prevailing winds across the floodplain then hit the sharp rise of the Loess Hills, creating thermal updrafts that raptors use to make their way to and from breeding grounds. Raptors can often be viewed forming "kettles" where many birds will create a funnel-like formation as they utilize the same thermal. Typical species found during the months from September to December include red-tailed hawk, sharp-shinned hawk, peregrine falcon, ferruginous hawk, Swainson's hawk, Cooper's Hawk, Osprey, Northern Harrier, American Kestrel, and Bald Eagle. In all, 20 species of raptor have been identified in a single season since Hitchcock Nature Center HawkWatch started, with a record count of 16,000 birds in one season in 2005.


Recreation and public lands

Union Pacific coal train crossing the Union Pacific Missouri River Bridge in Omaha with the Loess Hills in the background.
Union Pacific coal train crossing the Union Pacific Missouri River Bridge in Omaha with the Loess Hills in the background.

The Loess Hills Scenic Byway affords many scenic views as it twists through the range from north to south, starting in Westfield, Iowa and ending in Hamburg. While much of the landscape is held in private ownership, thousands of acres of public land exist in state and county parks, wildlife areas and preserves. The Nature Conservancy also owns several preserve areas in the Hills which are open to the public, including Broken Kettle Preserve - the largest contiguous tract of native prairie left in Iowa and home to the last remaining known population of prairie rattlesnake in Iowa. The Loess Hils State Forest is located in west-central Iowa in Harrison and Monona counties. It is comprised of 4 units totaling 10,600 acres, and offers hiking, backpacking, picnicking, and fishing opportunities. Preparation Canyon State Park, located in the middle of the range, near Pisgah, is a less developed park in the middle of the Loess Hills State Forest. Backpacking trails lead to hike-in campsites. Two major state parks anchor the north and south end of the range - Waubonsie in the south and Stone in the north, both offer camping and a variety of other amenities. Hitchcock Nature Center is operated by the Pottawattamie County Conservation Board and features a lodge with raptor viewing platform and observation tower, from which one has striking views of the Hills, the Missouri River valley, and the skyline of downtown Omaha, Nebraska. Hike-in camping is also available at this location. Image File history File linksMetadata Size of this preview: 800 × 174 pixel Image in higher resolution (1864 × 406 pixel, file size: 128 KB, MIME type: image/jpeg) Union Pacific Missouri River Bridge with UP coal train crossing Missouri River in December 2006. ... Image File history File linksMetadata Size of this preview: 800 × 174 pixel Image in higher resolution (1864 × 406 pixel, file size: 128 KB, MIME type: image/jpeg) Union Pacific Missouri River Bridge with UP coal train crossing Missouri River in December 2006. ... The Union Pacific Railroad (NYSE: UNP) is the largest railroad in the United States. ... Union Pacific Bridge about 1909 The Union Pacific Missouri River Bridge is a rail truss bridge across the Missouri River connecting Council Bluffs, Iowa with Omaha, Nebraska. ... The Nature Conservancy is a leading environmental organization working to protect the most ecologically important lands and waters around the world for nature and people. ... Iowa state forests This list is incomplete; you can help by expanding it. ... Harrison County is a county located in the state of Iowa. ... Monona County is a county located in the state of Iowa. ... Pottawattamie County is a county located in the state of Iowa. ... The Missouri River is a tributary of the Mississippi River in the United States. ... Nickname: Gateway to the West Location in Nebraska Coordinates: Country United States State Nebraska County Douglas Founded 1854 Incorporated 1857 Government  - Mayor Michael Fahey (D) Area  - City  118. ...


Two National Natural Landmarks are located in the Loess Hills. The Little Sioux/Smith Lake Site contains 2,980 acres and is perhaps the best example of the unique topography produced by large deposits of loess soil. The 7,440 acre Turin Site of the Loess Hills National Natural Landmark is located just outside of Turin and also contains the Turin Man prehistoric arhceological site. Caverns of Sonora National Natural Landmark The National Natural Landmark (NNL) program recognizes and encourages the conservation of outstanding examples of the United States natural history. ...


Human history

Lincoln Memorial where Abraham Lincoln is said to have selected Council Bluffs as the eastern terminus of the transcontinental railroad.
Lincoln Memorial where Abraham Lincoln is said to have selected Council Bluffs as the eastern terminus of the transcontinental railroad.

The Loess Hills have a rich archaeological heritage. The hills around Glenwood, in Mills County, were inhabitated by the Glenwood Culture, an eastern extension of the Nebraska Phase of the Woodland period. The Glenwood Culture lived in the area from roughly 900 A.D. to 1300 A.D. and built hundreds of earth lodges in the region, farming the rich valley bottoms and cultivating native plants from the surrounding hills. An earth lodge replica has been reconstructed in Glenwood Lake Park, and the Mills County Museum, also located at the park, houses an excellent collection of artifacts collected by renowned amateur archeologist Paul Rowe. Image File history File linksMetadata Download high-resolution version (2115x1390, 205 KB) Lincoln Memorial at Fairview Cemetery in Council Bluffs, Iowa looking towards Omaha, Nebraska with a jet coming into Eppley Airfield. ... Image File history File linksMetadata Download high-resolution version (2115x1390, 205 KB) Lincoln Memorial at Fairview Cemetery in Council Bluffs, Iowa looking towards Omaha, Nebraska with a jet coming into Eppley Airfield. ... Glenwood is a city in Mills County, Iowa, United States. ... Mills County is a county located in the state of Iowa. ... The Woodland period of North American pre-Columbian cultures lasted roughly from 1000 BCE to 1000 CE. The term Woodland was coined in the 1930s and refers to prehistoric sites between the Archaic period and the Mississippian cultures. ...


The city of Council Bluffs, Iowa derives its name from the hills based on the Lewis and Clark first formal meeting ("council") with Native Americans in 1804 (although the meeting with the Oto and Missouria tribe actually took place on the Nebraska side of the Missouri River at Fort Atkinson (Nebraska)). Satellite photo showing Council Bluffs and Omaha, Nebraska Council Bluffs is the county seat of Pottawattamie County, Iowa, United States on the east bank of the Missouri River. ... The Lewis and Clark expedition (1804-1806) was the first American overland expedition to the Pacific coast and back. ... Native Americans are the indigenous peoples from the regions of North America now encompassed by the continental United States, including parts of Alaska. ... The Otoe or Oto are a Native American people. ... The Missouri were an aboriginal tribe that inhabited parts of the midwestern United States before the American settlers arrived. ... Fort Atkinson was the first United States Army post estabished west of the Missouri River in the United States. ...


On August 12, 1859, Abraham Lincoln ascended the hills at Cemetery Hill at Fairview Cemetery in Council Bluffs while being briefed on possible locations for the First Transcontinental Railroad. Abraham Lincoln (February 12, 1809 – April 15, 1865) was the 16th President of the United States (March 4, 1861 – April 15, 1865). ... This article refers to a railroad built in the United States between Omaha and Sacramento completed in 1869. ...


Other loess landscapes

Loess soil also forms the Arikaree Breaks in northwest Kansas, and the Mississippi-Yazoo "Bluff Hills" near Vicksburg, Mississippi. A large region of Nebraska to the south and east of the Sand Hills is covered with loess. Deep loess deposits are also found in the Rhine River valley in Germany. The word loess is derived from the German for "loose or crumbly." The Breaks. The Arikaree Breaks are badlands in northwest Kansas. ... This article or section does not adequately cite its references or sources. ... Vicksburg is a city in Warren County, Mississippi. ... Official language(s) English Capital Lincoln Largest city Omaha Largest metro area Omaha Area  Ranked 16th  - Total 77,421 sq mi (200,520 km²)  - Width 210 miles (340 km)  - Length 430 miles (690 km)  - % water 0. ... Sand Hills from space, September 2001 The Sand Hills are a 19,600 mi² (50,960 km²) region of mixed-grass prairie in north-central Nebraska, covering just over one-fourth of the state. ... The Rhine (Dutch: ; French: ; German: ; Italian: ; Romansh: ) is one of the longest and most important rivers in Europe at 1,320 kilometres (820 miles), with an average discharge of more than 2,000 cubic meters per second. ...


References

  1. ^ Geology of the Loess Hills, Iowa - USGS

External links

  • Loess Hills Scenic Byway
  • Loess HIlls Western Iowa
  • Geology USGS
  • Fragile Giants
  • Loess Hills State Forest
  • Sen. Charles Grassley on the Loess Hills

  Results from FactBites:
 
Geology of the Loess Hills, Iowa (1336 words)
The steep angles and sharp bluffs on the western side of the Loess Hills are in sharp contrast to the flat rectangular cropfields of the Missouri River flood plain.
The steeply ridged bluffs of the Loess Hills' Murray Hill rise abruptly from the agricultural fields of Iowa.
The Loess Hills of Iowa are extremely fragile.
Loess Hills State Forest (2055 words)
The thickness of the loess and differences between the soils formed in the loess are related to the distance from the source of the loess.
The Loess Hills are an outstanding example of two basic geologic processes the strong influence of past eolian or wind deposition as well as erosional sculpture of the land.
The Loess Hills are a unique formation and their existence and the fact that they have become vegetated with forest species in recent years played a role in the decision to develop a state forest in this area.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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