Blue Ridge Mountains

The Blue Ridge Mountains are a physiographic province of the larger Appalachian Mountains range. The mountain range is located in the eastern United States, and extends 550 miles southwest from southern Pennsylvania through Maryland, West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Georgia.[1] This province consists of northern and southern physiographic regions, which divide near the Roanoke River gap.[2] To the west of the Blue Ridge, between it and the bulk of the Appalachians, lies the Great Appalachian Valley, bordered on the west by the Ridge and Valley province of the Appalachian range.

The Blue Ridge Mountains are noted for having a bluish color when seen from a distance. Trees put the "blue" in Blue Ridge, from the isoprene released into the atmosphere,[3] thereby contributing to the characteristic haze on the mountains and their distinctive color.[4]

Within the Blue Ridge province are two major national parks – the Shenandoah National Park in the northern section, and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in the southern section – and eight national forests including George Washington and Jefferson National Forests, Cherokee National Forest, Pisgah National Forest, Nantahala National Forest and Chattahoochee National Forest. The Blue Ridge also contains the Blue Ridge Parkway, a 469-mile (755 km) long scenic highway that connects the two parks and is located along the ridge crest-lines with the Appalachian Trail.[5]

Blue Ridge Mountains
Rainy Blue Ridge-27527
The Blue Ridge Mountains as seen from the Blue Ridge Parkway near Mount Mitchell in North Carolina
Highest point
PeakMount Mitchell
Elevation6,684 ft (2,037 m)
Coordinates35°45′53″N 82°15′55″W / 35.76472°N 82.26528°WCoordinates: 35°45′53″N 82°15′55″W / 35.76472°N 82.26528°W
Geography
Appalachian map
Appalachian Mountains
CountryUnited States
States
Parent rangeAppalachian Mountains
Geology
OrogenyGrenville orogeny
Type of rockgranite, gneiss and limestone

Geography

Although the term "Blue Ridge" is sometimes applied exclusively to the eastern edge or front range of the Appalachian Mountains, the geological definition of the Blue Ridge province extends westward to the Ridge and Valley area, encompassing the Great Smoky Mountains, the Great Balsams, the Roans, the Blacks, the Brushy Mountains (a "spur" of the Blue Ridge) and other mountain ranges.

Blowing Rock
The Blue Ridge Mountains as seen from Blowing Rock, North Carolina.

The Blue Ridge extends as far north into Pennsylvania as South Mountain. While South Mountain dwindles to mere hills between Gettysburg and Harrisburg, the band of ancient rocks that form the core of the Blue Ridge continues northeast through the New Jersey and Hudson River highlands, eventually reaching The Berkshires of Massachusetts and the Green Mountains of Vermont.

The Blue Ridge contains the highest mountains in eastern North America south of Baffin Island. About 125 peaks exceed 5,000 feet (1,500 m) in elevation.[6] The highest peak in the Blue Ridge (and in the entire Appalachian chain) is Mt. Mitchell in North Carolina at 6,684 feet (2,037 m). There are 39 peaks in North Carolina and Tennessee higher than 6,000 feet (1,800 m); by comparison, in the northern portion of the Appalachian chain only New Hampshire's Mt. Washington rises above 6,000 feet. Southern Sixers is a term used by peak baggers for this group of mountains.[7]

The Blue Ridge Parkway runs 469 miles (755 km) along crests of the Southern Appalachians and links two national parks: Shenandoah and Great Smoky Mountains. In many places along the parkway, there are metamorphic rocks (gneiss) with folded bands of light-and dark-colored minerals, which sometimes look like the folds and swirls in a marble cake.

Geology

Chimney Rock Mountain Overlook
Blue Ridge Mountains, viewed from Chimney Rock Mountain Overlook in North Carolina

Most of the rocks that form the Blue Ridge Mountains are ancient granitic charnockites, metamorphosed volcanic formations, and sedimentary limestone. Recent studies completed by Richard Tollo, a professor and geologist at George Washington University, provide greater insight into the petrologic and geochronologic history of the Blue Ridge basement suites. Modern studies have found that the basement geology of the Blue Ridge is made of compositionally unique gneisses and granitoids, including orthopyroxene-bearing charockites. Analysis of zircon minerals in the granite completed by John Aleinikoff at the U.S. Geological Survey has provided more detailed emplacement ages.

South Mountain-airphoto
The northernmost extension of the Blue Ridge Mountains, in northern Maryland

Many of the features found in the Blue Ridge and documented by Tollo and others have confirmed that the rocks exhibit many similar features in other North American Grenville-age terranes. The lack of a calc-alkaline affinity and zircon ages less than 1,200 Ma suggest that the Blue Ridge is distinct from the Adirondacks, Green Mountains, and possibly the New York-New Jersey Highlands. The petrologic and geochronologic data suggest that the Blue Ridge basement is a composite orogenic crust that was emplaced during several episodes from a crustal magma source. Field relationships further illustrate that rocks emplaced prior to 1,078–1,064 Ma preserve deformational features. Those emplaced post-1,064 Ma generally have a massive texture and missed the main episode of Mesoproterozoic compression.[8]

The Blue Ridge Mountains began forming during the Silurian Period over 400 million years ago. Approximately 320 Mya, North America, and Europe collided, pushing up the Blue Ridge. At the time of their emergence, the Blue Ridge were among the highest mountains in the world and reached heights comparable to the much younger Alps. Today, due to weathering and erosion over hundreds of millions of years, the highest peak in the range, Mount Mitchell in North Carolina, is only 6,684 feet high – still the highest peak east of the Rockies.

History

Blue Ridge Mountains from Liberty University in Lynchburg, VA IMG 4115
The Blue Ridge Mountains in the background from Lynchburg, Virginia

The English who settled colonial Virginia in the early 17th century recorded that the native Powhatan name for the Blue Ridge was Quirank. At the foot of the Blue Ridge, various tribes including the Siouan Manahoacs, the Iroquois, and the Shawnee hunted and fished. A German physician-explorer, John Lederer, first reached the crest of the Blue Ridge in 1669 and again the following year; he also recorded the Virginia Siouan name for the Blue Ridge (Ahkonshuck).

At the Treaty of Albany negotiated by Lieutenant Governor Alexander Spotswood (1676–1740), of Virginia with the Iroquois between 1718 and 1722, the Iroquois ceded lands they had conquered south of the Potomac River and east of the Blue Ridge to the Virginia Colony. This treaty made the Blue Ridge the new demarcation point between the areas and tribes subject to the Six Nations, and those tributaries to the Colony. When colonists began to disregard this by crossing the Blue Ridge and settling in the Shenandoah Valley in the 1730s, the Iroquois began to object, finally selling their rights to the Valley, on the west side of the Blue Ridge, at the Treaty of Lancaster in 1744.

During the Gettysburg Campaign of the American Civil War, the Army of Northern Virginia, Robert E. Lee commanding, slipped across the Potomac to begin the second invasion of the North. They moved slowly across the Blue Ridge, using the mountains to screen their movements.

Flora and fauna

The forest environment provides natural habitat for many plants, trees, and animals.

Flora

The Blue Ridge Mountains have stunted oak and oak-hickory forest habitats, which comprise most of the Appalachian slope forests. Flora also includes grass, shrubs, hemlock and mixed-oak pine forests.[9]

While the Blue Ridge range includes the highest summits in the eastern United States, the climate is nevertheless too warm to support an alpine zone, and thus the range lacks the tree line found at lower elevations in the northern half of the Appalachian range. The highest parts of the Blue Ridge are generally vegetated in dense Southern Appalachian spruce-fir forests.

Fauna

The area is host to many animals, including:[9]

In music

See also

References

  1. ^ "Blue Ridge". U.S. Geological Survey. Retrieved December 19, 2018.
  2. ^ "Physiographic divisions of the conterminous U. S." U.S. Geological Survey. Retrieved December 6, 2007.
  3. ^ Johnson, A. W (1998). Invitation To Organic Chemistry. Jones & Bartlett Learning. p. 261. ISBN 978-0-7637-0432-2.
  4. ^ "Blue Ridge Parkway, Frequently Asked Questions". National Park Service. 2007. Retrieved December 29, 2007.
  5. ^ Leighty, Dr. Robert D. (2001). "Blue Ridge Physiographic Province". Contract Report. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DOD) Information Sciences Office. Retrieved December 29, 2007.
  6. ^ Medina, M.A.; J.C. Reid; R.H. Carpenter (2004). "Physiography of North Carolina" (PDF). North Carolina Geological Survey, Division of Land Resources. Retrieved December 29, 2007.
  7. ^ South Beyond 6000
  8. ^ Tollo, Richard P.; Aleinkoff, John N.; Borduas, Elizabeth A. (2004). "Petrology and Geochronology of Grenville-Age Magmatism, Blue Ridge Province, Northern Virginia". Northeastern Section (39th Annual) and Southeastern Section (53rd Annual) Joint Meeting. Geological Society of America.
  9. ^ a b "Blue Ridge Mountains". The New Georgia Encyclopedia. Retrieved 4 September 2016.
  10. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 314. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
  11. ^ "Clemson University Alma Mater". Clemson.edu. Retrieved May 24, 2018.
  12. ^ https://www.songfacts.com/lyrics/john-denver/take-me-home-country-roads
  • Olson, Ted (1998). Blue Ridge Folklife, University Press of Mississippi. ISBN 1-57806-023-0.

External links

Apple Orchard Mountain

Apple Orchard Mountain is a peak of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia.

Located in Jefferson National Forest, Apple Orchard Mountain is the county highpoint for both Bedford County and Botetourt County, Virginia as well as the highest point on the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia. It is also the most topographically prominent mountain in the state. The summit is open, and an FAA radar stands nearby. This radar stand makes the mountain recognizable from miles away.

Battle of Manassas Gap

The Battle of Manassas Gap, also known as the Battle of Wapping Heights, took place on July 23, 1863, in Warren County, Virginia, at the conclusion of General Robert E. Lee's retreat back to Virginia in the final days of the Gettysburg Campaign of the American Civil War. Union forces attempted to force passage across the Blue Ridge Mountains and attack the Confederate rear as it formed a defensive position in the upper Shenandoah Valley. Despite successfully forcing the passage at Manassas Gap, the Union force was unable to do so before Lee retreated further up the valley to safety, resulting in an inconclusive battle.

Blue Ridge Mountain

Blue Ridge Mountain, also known as Blue Mountain, is the colloquial name of the westernmost ridge of the Blue Ridge Mountains in northern Virginia and the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia. The Appalachian Trail traverses the entire length of the mountain along its western slope and crest.

Blue Ridge Mountains Council

The Blue Ridge Mountains Council is a Boy Scouts of America council located in Roanoke, Virginia that serves Scouts in southwest and south central Virginia. The Blue Ridge Mountains Council owns and operates the Blue Ridge Scout Reservation in Pulaski County, Virginia. The local Order of the Arrow lodge is the Tutelo Lodge.

Bull Run Mountains

The Bull Run Mountains are a mountain range of the Blue Ridge Mountains in northern Virginia in the United States. Located approximately 20 miles (32 km) east of the main chain, across the Loudoun Valley. The Bull Run Mountains, together with Catoctin Mountain in Virginia and Maryland, make up the easternmost front of the Blue Ridge.

The range is home to the Bull Run Mountains Natural Area Preserve, and to residents of the Bull Run Mountain Estates.

Interstate 66, the John Marshall Highway (Virginia Route 55) and the Manassas Gap Railroad pass through the range at Thoroughfare Gap.

Carters Lake

Carters Lake, the deepest of Georgia's reservoir lakes, is located in the Blue Ridge Mountains in both Gilmer and Murray County. It was named after Farrish Carter who lived in the 19th century. It has a surface area of 3,200 acres (13 km2) and has 62 miles (100 km) of shoreline. Carters Lake has an average depth of 200 feet (61 m) and a maximum depth of 450 feet (140 m).Carters Lake, owned by the US Army Corps of Engineers, is a man-made lake without private docks or houses along its shore. This lake is fed by the Coosawattee River that runs between Ellijay and Chatsworth, and was formed by Carters Dam, the tallest earthen dam east of the Mississippi, which was completed in 1977. Since then, it has been used to act as a watershed to control annual flooding and generate power. Carters Lake is also used for various forms of outdoor recreation such as fishing, water skiing, hiking, camping, and mountain biking.The lake didn't serve as inspiration for deliverance though this is a common misconception deliverance was released in 1972 a full 5 years before the completion of Carter's dam.

Catoctin Mountain Park

Catoctin Mountain Park, located in north-central Maryland, is part of the forested Catoctin Mountain ridge−range that forms the northeastern rampart of the Blue Ridge Mountains, in the Appalachian Mountains System.

Approximately 8 square miles (21 km2) in area, the park features sparkling streams and panoramic vistas of the Monocacy Valley.

Catoctin Mountain Park is managed by the National Park Service, and lies north of and directly adjacent to the similarly-sized Cunningham Falls State Park.

G. Richard Thompson Wildlife Management Area

G. Richard Thompson Wildlife Management Area, one of the richest botanical areas of Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains, is a 4,000-acre (16 km2) Wildlife Management Area (WMA) located primarily in Fauquier County, Virginia, with small encroachments into both Warren and Clarke counties.

Going Back to the Blue Ridge Mountains

Going Back To The Blue Ridge Mountains is a live album by the progressive bluegrass band Country Gentlemen. It includes songs performed live by the "almost classic" lineup of the group (without Tom Gray, with Ed Ferris on bass). The recordings come from live performances during early and mid 60's.

Great Balsam Mountains

The Great Balsam Mountains, or Balsam Mountains, are in the mountain region of western North Carolina, United States. The Great Balsams are a subrange of the Blue Ridge Mountains, which in turn are a part of the Appalachian Mountains. The most famous peak in the Great Balsam range is Cold Mountain, which is the centerpiece of author Charles Frazier's bestselling novel Cold Mountain.

The Blue Ridge Parkway runs along its length and at Richland Balsam (milepost 431), the Parkway is at its highest point (6053 feet).

Great Craggy Mountains

The Great Craggy Mountains, commonly called the Craggies, are a mountain range in western North Carolina, United States. They are a subrange of the Blue Ridge Mountains and encompass an area of approx. 194 sq mi (503 km²). They are situated in Buncombe County, North Carolina, 14 miles northeast of Asheville. The Black Mountains lie to the northeast, across the upper Cane River valley.

The Blue Ridge Parkway runs along the crest for most of the way between Asheville and Mount Mitchell. Craggy Gardens, an area of 16 km, is covered with purple Catawba rhododendrons in mid-June. The parkway through the area was closed from late 2012 through early 2013 due to subsidence caused by heavy rains, and had to be closed again during summer 2013 due to a reoccurrence of the same issues. Access to Mount Mitchell was only from the north or via detour from the south.

High Knob (Blue Ridge, Virginia)

High Knob is a peak of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Warren and Fauquier counties, Virginia.

Iron Mountains

The Iron Mountains are a subrange of the Blue Ridge Mountains. These mountains are located around the common meeting point of Tennessee, Virginia, and North Carolina.

A portion of the Appalachian Trail runs the crest of the Iron Mountains above Watauga Lake and the Watauga River near Elizabethton, Tennessee, and then runs northeastly by Shady Valley, Tennessee, finally ascending Holston Mountain and into Virginia. In addition, the historic Virginia Creeper Trail traverses the Iron Mountains between Damascus and Whitetop, Virginia.

Knob Mountain

Knob Mountain is a mountain in Page County, Virginia. It is part of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Its summit lies within Shenandoah National Park at an elevation of 2,671 ft (814 m).

Neighbor Mountain

Neighbor Mountain is a mountain in Page and Rappahannock Counties, Virginia, near the city of Luray. It is part of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Its summit lies in Page County, within Shenandoah National Park.

Old Rag Mountain

Old Rag Mountain is a 3,284 feet (1,001 m) mountain near Sperryville in Madison County, Virginia. A part of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the peak is located within Shenandoah National Park and is the most popular hiking destination within the park.In contrast to most mountains of the Blue Ridge, Old Rag has an exposed (rocky) summit.

Pignut Mountain

Pignut Mountain is a mountain in Rappahannock County, Virginia. It is part of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Its summit lies within Shenandoah National Park.

Unaka Range

The Unaka Range is a mountain range on the border of Tennessee and North Carolina, in the southeastern United States. It is a subrange of the Appalachian Mountains and is part of the Blue Ridge Mountains physiographic province. The Unakas stretch approximately from the Nolichucky River to the south to the Watauga River to the north. The Unakas include the prominent Roan Highlands, where several summits rise above 6,000 feet. The Iron Mountains border the Unakas to the north, and the Bald Mountains border the Unakas opposite the Nolichucky to the south. The name unaka is rooted in the Cherokee term unega, meaning "white".The Cherokee National Forest and the Pisgah National Forest protect large sections of the Unaka Mountains. The Appalachian Trail traverses the Unaka crest.

In some geological and in historical sources, the term "Unaka Range" is used to identify the entire crest of the Appalachian Mountains along the Tennessee-North Carolina border, including the Unakas, the Great Smoky Mountains, the Bald Mountains, the Unicoi Mountains, and the mountains in the Big Frog Wilderness and Little Frog Mountain Wilderness.

Unakite was first discovered in the Unaka Range, and was thus named after it.

Wind gap

A wind gap (or air gap) is a gap through which a waterway once flowed that is now dry as a result of stream capture. A water gap is a similar feature, but one in which a waterway still flows. Water gaps and wind gaps often provide routes which, due to their gently inclined profile, are suitable for trails, roads, and railroads through mountainous terrain.

Examples of wind gaps in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia include Swift Run Gap, Rockfish Gap, and Buford's Gap. The last was the original crossing of the Blue Ridge Mountains near Bedford for the Virginia and Tennessee Railroad, later the Norfolk and Western Railway, a precursor of today's Norfolk Southern Railway system. Another wind gap with substantial importance in U.S. history is the Cumberland Gap near the junction of Kentucky, Virginia, and Tennessee.

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