Answer to State High Points Riddle

See also the list of all 50 State High Points.

Gary Craig asks, "What distinguishes the following eight state high points from all the rest?"

State High Point Elev
DEDelaware Ebright Hill 448
PAPennsylvania Mount Davis 3213
GAGeorgia Brasstown Bald 4784
NHNew HampshireMountWashington 6288
NCNorthCarolinaMount Mitchell 6684
TXTexas Guadalupe Peak 8749
CACalifornia Mount Whitney 14494
AKAlaska Mount McKinley 20320

The answer is that they all have been the high point of the United States, at least for a short time. I ordered the list above in increasing order of elevation, which also orders the list from earliest to latest ratification of the constitution by respective state. Delaware was first; its high point was surpassed less than a week later by Pennsylvania's, et cetera. The high point of the 13 colonies was N.C.'s Mt. Mitchell, which lasted until Texas was admitted to the US in 1845. Mt. Whitney has had the longest tenure as US high point at about 109 years, to be surpassed by McKinley/Denali in 2068 (very likely, at least).

Alan Ritter provides extra detail:

Well, Whitney being the highpoint of the lower 48 States, it would have been the U.S. highpoint from the statehood date of California until the statehood date of Alaska, from 1850 until 1959, or 109 years (haven't double-checked the exact dates, so could be 108, not 109 years).

That means that McKinley (Denali) WILL become the longest-tenure highpoint in 1959 + 109 years or 2068, give or take a year. At that point, it WILL HAVE BEEN the highpoint with the longest tenure.

Now, I haven't gone back through the various statehood dates to determine when other likely candidates for the state with the highpoint of the longest tenure were likely to have been admitted to the Union, but I rather suspect that North Carolina (Mt. Mitchell, the tallest thing east of the Mississippi and surpassed only by Harney Peak east of the Rockies) might qualify, given the early statehood of NC and relatively late statehood of SD.

If anybody wants to add a column to my state highpoint table with statehood dates and tenure as the U.S. highpoint, feel free to work your way down the list at and find a list of statehood dates and you should be able to figure out pretty well what the relative tenures are. If the U.S. highpoint of longest tenure isn't NC, CA probably wins the prize.

Dontcha just love trivia???