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Turtle Mountain, or the Turtle Mountains, is an area in central North America, in the north-central portion of the U.S. state of North Dakota and southwestern portion of the Canadian province of Manitoba, approximately 100 km south of the city of Brandon on provincial highway 10. It is a plateau 2,000 ft (600 m) above sea level, 300 ft to 400 ft (90 m to 120 m) above the surrounding countryside, extending 20 mi (32 km) from north to south and 40 mi (64 km) from east to west.
It has timber, numerous lakes, and small deposits of low-grade manganese. The Turtle Mountain Indian Reservation is in a valley on the southeastern edge of the plateau, and the International Peace Garden is also located in the region. One of the most popular and largest lakes in the Turtle Mountains is Lake Metigoshe, which straddles the international border, with about one-eighth of the lake in Canada. The region is home to Turtle Mountain Provincial Park, a state park, two historic sites, and various hunting and fishing opportunities. Nearby is Bottineau Winter Park, a modest alpine ski area with a vertical drop of 250 feet (79 m).
The Turtle Mountain area is covered by deciduous forest. Woodland overstory species are primarily green ash (Fraxinus pennsylvanica), quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides), Manitoba maple (Acer negundo), American elm (Ulmus americana), paper birch (Betula papyrifera), bur oak (Quercus macrocarpa), and balsam poplar (Populus balsamifera). Common shrubs in the forest understory include beaked hazel (Corylus cornuta), chokecherry (Prunus virginiana), saskatoon berry (Amelanchier alnifolia), nannyberry (Viburnum lentago), dogwood (Cornus sericea), highbush cranberry (Viburnum trilobum) and pincherry (Prunus pensylvanica). The area near Mary Lake includes the spotted coralroot orchid (Corallorhiza maculata) and calypso orchid (Calypso bulbosa). Turtle Mountain is home to moose (Alces alces), white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus), beaver (Castor canadensis), raccoon (Procyon lotor) and mink (Neovison vison), as well as birds like loons (Gavia species), great blue heron (Ardea herodias herodias), black-crowned night heron (Nycticorax nycticorax), the double-crested cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus) and red-necked grebes (Podiceps grisegena). The abundant small lakes support painted turtles (Chrysemys picta), wood frogs (Lithobates sylvaticus), the Northern Leopard Frog (Lithobates pipiens), and the barred tiger salamander (Ambystoma mavortium).
Following the discovery of coal in 1879 there was coal mining in the Turtle Mountains near Old Deloraine town site in Manitoba and along ravines on the western flank of Turtle Mountain. The Lennox mine opened in 1883 and mining continued intermittently at the Voden, McArthur, McKay, and Manitoba Coal Company mines until 1908. When higher quality coal was found elsewhere and the Trans-Canada Railway was built, the mines closed. Small scale coal mining was revived during the Depression because Turtle Mountain lignite was cheaper than higher coal grades from Saskatchewan. Peak annual production of the McArthur, Henderson, Deep Ravine, Salter, Powne, and Deloraine Coal Company mines averaged over 1000 tons each. However, the Salter and Henderson mines produced 95% of Manitoba's coal over a span of about eight years. The last mine closed in 1943 due to labour shortages during World War II and changed economic conditions. The old Deloraine town site is now covered by a man-made lake, made when the Turtle-Head Dam was built.
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