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Mount Nittany
Mount Nittany2.JPG
Southern terminus of Mount Nittany ridge, looking east from the Bryce Jordan Center near State College.
Elevation 2,077 feet (633 meters)
Location Centre County, Pennsylvania, USA
Range Appalachian Mountains
Coordinates 40°49′34.4640″N 77°46′31.3681″W / 40.82624°N 77.775380028°W / 40.82624; -77.775380028
Topo map USGS State College Quadrangle
Easiest route White Trail

Mount Nittany is the common name for Nittany Mountain, a prominent geographic feature in Centre County, Pennsylvania. The mountain is actually part of a complex of ridges that separates Nittany Valley from Penns Valley, with the enclosed Sugar Valley between them. On USGS topographic maps, Nittany Mountain is generally shown as the lower ridge line that runs below Big Mountain on the west and Big Kettle Mountain on the east side, coming together to form a single ridge line at the southern terminus. This nomenclature is not always consistently applied to the same geologic formation, and there is a shorter Nittany Mountain ridge shown above the Sugar Valley as well.

Mount Nittany is a Penn State University landmark. The athletic teams and the mascot of the school, the Nittany Lion, are named in honor of the mountain and its history.

The word Nittany is derived from the Algonquian language word Nit-A-Nee meaning "single mountain". In Penn State folklore, Nit-A-Nee is also the name of an Indian maiden whose actions caused Mount Nittany to be formed. The original inhabitants of the area used Nit-A-Nee to describe the mountain, and it likely became corrupted to Nittany by the first Europeans to settle the area in the 1700s. By the time of Penn State's founding in 1855, the word Nittany was already in use. Some sources cite the word Nit-A-Nee as meaning "barrier against the wind", which is not as likely.

In 1945 the landowners of Mount Nittany were preparing to sell the mountain, and allegedly timber rights also. The alumni of the Lion's Paw Senior Society heard of this, and bought an option to buy the mountain. It took the Lion's Paw alumni until May 1946 to raise the money needed to buy the mountain. In 1981, Lion's Paw established the Mount Nittany Conservancy, an organization intended to raise money from the general public in addition to the money raised by Lion's Paw members. Since its establishment, the Mount Nittany Conservancy has purchased hundreds of additional acres on Mount Nittany.

Legend of Mount Nittany

View of Beaver Stadium from Mt. Nittany.

The legend of how Mount Nittany was formed is quoted below, with the permission of the Mount Nittany Conservancy:

Nit-A-Nee, which means "barrier against the wind," was an Indian maiden whose lover, Lion's Paw, was killed...

Nit-A-Nee enfolded him into her arms and carried his still erect body back to a place in the center of the Valley where she laid the strong Brave in his grave and built a mound of honor over his strength.

On the last night of the full moon, after she had finally raised the last of the soil and stone over his high mound, a terrible storm came up unleashing itself with thunder and lightning and the wailing of a horrendous wind from the depths of the earth. Every Indian in the Valley shuddered and all eyes were directed to the Indian Brave's high mound upon which the strong maiden Princess Nit-A-Nee was mounted with arms outstretched to touch the sources of the lightning bolts in the sky

Through the night they watched with awe as the Indian Brave's burial mound grew and rose into a Mountain penetrating the center of the big valley between the two legs of the Tussey and Bald Eagle Ridges. When the dawn finally came, a huge Mountain was found standing erect in the center of the Valley.

Aerial view of Mount Nittany as seen from State College, PA.

A legend had been born. The mound and the maiden had given place to a Mountain, and standing on its summit was a Lion surrounded by eleven orphaned male cubs, each of whom had the courage of the fearless Indian Brave and the heart and strength of the mysterious Indian Princess. From this day forward every place in the valley was safe, and the wind wrested nothing from the fields on which these Lions strode as fearless heroes from the Mountain. The people of the Valley from that date forward knew only happiness and bounteous plenty.

In the fullness of time, men and women came from across the farthest seas to build a college at the foot of this Mountain. The strength and courage of the students of this college became known far and wide.

As each student learned the destructive power of the North Wind across the fields, each also learned the strength of the Princess known as "Breaker of the Wind," called in her language Nit-A-Nee, and the courage unto death of the Indian Brave called Lion's Paw.

As long as this strength and courage is known in the Valley, Mount Nittany will stand as a breaker of the wind.

This is the legend of Mount Nittany. May it stand forever high and strong in our midst, our breaker against the harsh winds of destiny and fate which sweep down from the north.

May Mount Nittany ever rise above us as the Guardian before the gates of Old Penn State. May the mysterious Indian Princess ever stand in our midst as breaker and shield against the destructive power of the winds of fate. And may the Nittany Lion's cubs forever join in the games which are the guarantee of the life of the land we love.

Geology of Mount Nittany

Mount Nittany is part of the Ridge and Valley province of the Appalachian Mountains. The neighboring Bald Eagle, Tussey and Shriner Mountains are part of the same sedimentary formation consisting of, from youngest to oldest, Tuscarora Formation Quartzite, Juniata Formation Shale, and Bald Eagle Formation Sandstone. These layers were folded during the Appalachian orogeny.

Nittany Mountain is part of a synclinal depression of the anticlinal Nittany Arch, which originally formed a huge mountain, since eroded, that towered over what is now Nittany Valley. The present Nittany and Big Mountain ridges were originally a valley in this ancient mountain. The Nittany ridge line is topped by the erosion resistant Bald Eagle Sandstone. The more durable Tuscasora Quartzite formations are found exposed on the higher ridges of the northern end of the same syncline: Big Mountain to "Riansares Mountain" and Big Kettle Mountain to "The Winehead". The more easily eroded Juniata Shale forms the depression between the lower and higher ridges, and the drainage from this area cut small ravines in the Nittany ridge line. The same three rock layers are exposed in the neighboring ridges.

Beneath the sedimentary layers is a formation of Dolomite and Limestone. The Bald Eagle Sandstone topping Mt. Nittany prevents the erosion of the underlying limestone to the same level as the surrounding limestone valleys.

External links

Coordinates: 40°49′34″N 77°46′31″W / 40.82624°N 77.77538°W / 40.82624; -77.77538

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