Piedmont (United States)

The Piedmont is a plateau region located in the Eastern United States. It sits between the Atlantic coastal plain and the main Appalachian Mountains, stretching from New Jersey in the north to central Alabama in the south. The Piedmont Province is a physiographic province of the larger Appalachian division which consists of the Gettysburg-Newark Lowlands, the Piedmont Upland and the Piedmont Lowlands sections.[1]

The Atlantic Seaboard fall line marks the Piedmont's eastern boundary with the Coastal Plain. To the west, it is mostly bounded by the Blue Ridge Mountains, the easternmost range of the main Appalachians. The width of the Piedmont varies, being quite narrow above the Delaware River but nearly 300 miles (475 km) wide in North Carolina. The Piedmont's area is approximately 80,000 square miles (210,000 km2).[2]

The name "Piedmont" comes from the French term for the same physical region, literally meaning "foothill", ultimately from Latin "pedemontium", meaning "at the foot of the mountains", similar to the name of the Italian region of Piedmont (Piemonte), abutting the Alps.

The James River winds its way among Piedmont hills in central Virginia. Most of the hills in the Piedmont region are smaller than these.
Piedmont plateau region (shaded)
Piedmont Plateau Plate XXXVII WBClark 1898
Piedmont Plateau, looking east from Rocky Ridge in Maryland, c. 1898


The surface relief of the Piedmont is characterized by relatively low, rolling hills with heights above sea level between 200 feet (50 m) and 800 feet to 1,000 feet (250 m to 300 m). Its geology is complex, with numerous rock formations of different materials and ages intermingled with one another. Essentially, the Piedmont is the remnant of several ancient mountain chains that have since been eroded away. Geologists have identified at least five separate events which have led to sediment deposition, including the Grenville orogeny (the collision of continents that created the supercontinent Rodinia) and the Appalachian orogeny during the formation of Pangaea. The last major event in the history of the Piedmont was the break-up of Pangaea, when North America and Africa began to separate. Large basins formed from the rifting and were subsequently filled by the sediments shed from the surrounding higher ground. The series of Mesozoic basins is almost entirely located inside the Piedmont region.

Soils and farming

Piedmont soils are generally clay-like (Ultisols) and moderately fertile. In some areas they have suffered from erosion and over-cropping, particularly in the South where cotton was historically the chief crop. In the central Piedmont region of North Carolina and Virginia, tobacco is the main crop, while in the north region there is more diversity, including orchards, dairying and general farming.[2]


The portion of the Piedmont region in the southern United States, is closely associated with the Piedmont blues, a style of blues music that originated there in the late 19th century. According to the Piedmont Blues Preservation Society, most Piedmont blues musicians came from Virginia, the Carolinas, and Georgia. During the Great Migration, African Americans migrated to the Piedmont. With the Appalachian Mountains to the west, those who might otherwise have spread into rural areas stayed in cities and were thus exposed to a broader mixture of music than those in, for example, the rural Mississippi delta. Thus, Piedmont blues was influenced by many types of music such as ragtime, country, and popular songs—styles that had comparatively less influence on blues music in other regions.[3]


Many major cities are located on the Atlantic Seaboard fall line, the eastern boundary of the Piedmont. (In Georgia and Alabama, where the Piedmont runs mostly east to west, the fall line is its southern boundary.) The fall line, where the land rises abruptly from the coastal plain, marks the limit of navigability on many major rivers, so inland ports sprang up along it.

Within the Piedmont region itself, there are several areas of urban concentration, the largest being the Philadelphia metropolitan area in Pennsylvania. The Piedmont cuts Maryland in half, covering the Baltimore–Washington metropolitan area. In Virginia, the Greater Richmond metropolitan area is the largest urban concentration. In North Carolina, the Piedmont Crescent includes several metropolitan clusters such as Charlotte metropolitan area, the Piedmont Triad, and the Research Triangle. Other notable areas include the Greenville-Spartanburg-Anderson, SC Combined Statistical Area in South Carolina, and in Georgia, the Atlanta metropolitan area.

See also


  1. ^ "Physiographic divisions of the conterminous U. S." U.S. Geological Survey. Retrieved 2007-12-06.
  2. ^ a b "Piedmont". The Columbia Gazetteer of North America, 2000. Archived from the original on 2005-03-10. Retrieved 2007-12-09.
  3. ^ http://piedmontblues.org/ Piedmont Blues Preservation Society

Further reading

  • Godfrey, Michael A. (1997). Field Guide to the Piedmont. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press. ISBN 0-8078-4671-6.

External links

Brushy Mountains (North Carolina)

The Brushy Mountains are a mountain range located in northwestern North Carolina. They are an isolated "spur" of the much larger Blue Ridge Mountains, separated from them by the Yadkin River valley. A deeply eroded range, they move from the southwest to the northeast, and cross five counties in North Carolina: Caldwell, Alexander, Wilkes, Iredell, and Yadkin.

The Brushy Mountains divide, for much of their courses, the waters of the Yadkin River and the Catawba River, two of central North Carolina's largest rivers. The range is approximately 45 miles (72 km) long, but only 4 to 8 miles wide. The highest point in the chain is Pores Knob (2,680 feet, 817 meters), in Wilkes County. Among the other notable peaks in the range are Hibriten Mountain in Caldwell County, which marks the western end of the Brushy Mountains and is a prominent landmark in the city of Lenoir, North Carolina; Hickory Knob, the highest point in Alexander County, North Carolina; and Fox Mountain, the highest point in Iredell County, North Carolina. The "Brushies", as they are often called by locals, usually rise from 300 to 800 feet (240 m) above the surrounding countryside, with few peaks rising more than a thousand feet above their base. The forests on the mountains are part of the Southeastern mixed forests ecoregion.The Mountains are primarily known for their abundance of apple orchards, and the Brushy Mountain Apple Festival is held in North Wilkesboro, North Carolina each year to celebrate the harvest. The region was also once known as a hotbed of "moonshining", or the production of illegal homemade liquor. Several of the earliest stars of stock-car racing in the 1940s and 1950s got their start in the moonshining business in the Brushy Mountains. James Larkin Pearson, a newspaper publisher and editor who served as North Carolina's official Poet Laureate from 1953 to 1981, was born and raised in the Brushy Mountains, and lived in the Brushies his entire life. Much of his poetry was based on his life in the Brushy Mountains.

Crowders Mountain

Crowders Mountain is one of two main peaks within Crowders Mountain State Park, the other peak being The Pinnacle. The park is located in the western Piedmont of North Carolina between the cities of Kings Mountain and Gastonia or about 25 miles (40 km) west of Charlotte. Crowders Mountain abruptly rises nearly 800 feet (240 m) above the surrounding terrain, and has an elevation of 1,625 feet (495 m) above sea level.

Although stated as true on some sites, the mountain was not named after Ulrich Crowder [Krauter], a German merchant and farmer. In 1789, Ulrich purchased land much farther north of the mountain before moving west. The mountain is named for Crowders Creek, which originates near the base of the mountain. The original namesake of Crowders Creek is unknown, but mostly likely lived farther south along Crowders Creek. Crowders Mountain and The Pinnacle, located to the southwest, once served as markers to separate the hunting grounds of the Catawba and Cherokee Indians.

In the early 1970s a mining company began doing exploratory sampling of areas along what is now the Backside Trail with the intent of purchasing the minerals rights to excavate the mountain for kyanite, barite, and iron. This led local concerned citizens, educational institutions, and local governments to join together and convince state government pursue the creation of a state park in order to protect the area.

In 1973 the State of North Carolina created Crowders Mountain State Park. It opened to the public in 1974. Crowders Mountain proper was added to the new park in 1978. The Pinnacle was added in 1987. In the year 2000, 2000+ acres were purchased. This purchase brought the entire ridge line of Kings Mountain into the park and took park boundaries to the North Carolina/South Carolina state line. Both monadnocks present sheer rock cliffs which are 100–150 feet (30–46 m) in height. The cliffs of Crowders Mountain are popular among rock climbers. Rock climbing is no longer permitted on The Pinnacle. Hiking trails lead to both summits, from which it is possible to view the skyscrapers of nearby Charlotte, North Carolina, on a clear day.

Hanging Rock State Park

Hanging Rock State Park is a 7,869-acre (3,184 ha) North Carolina state park in Stokes County, North Carolina in the United States. The park is 30 miles (48 km) north of Winston-Salem and is located approximately 2 miles (3.2 km) from Danbury in Stokes County.

Hibriten Mountain

Hibriten Mountain, located just east of Lenoir, North Carolina, marks the western end of the Brushy Mountains range. At 2,211 feet, the mountain's summit is nearly 1,000 feet above the surrounding terrain. The summit is well known to the locals for its large welcome light which glows at night in the shape of a star in the weeks before Christmas and a cross before Easter.

A fire tower was erected at the summit in 1927. It is considered one of the most important fire towers in western North Carolina.The star/cross light display at the peak was built in 1954. The star was first shown during the Christmas season of that year, and the cross was first shown during Easter of the following year.Its geographic and symbolic importance to the area was demonstrated when, in 1966, a new high school was opened at the base of the peak. It was named Hibriten High School in honor of the mountain.

A hang gliding ramp was built at the west end of the mountain top in 1982 by The Buzzard Club.

Hibriten Mountain not only provides a hang gliding location but also a great hiking trail for the community. There is even an annual race called the Hibriten Hill Run for Children which features a 5k and 10k run.

Joes Mountain (South Carolina)

Joes Mountain is a mountain in York County in the state of South Carolina. The summit of Joes Mountain is at an elevation of 1,027 feet (313 meters) above sea level. The mountain is one of the three main mountain summits of Kings Mountain National Military Park. The other mountain summits are Brown's Mountain and Kings Mountain.

Kings Pinnacle

Kings Pinnacle, or more commonly The Pinnacle, is one of the two main peaks located within Crowders Mountain State Park. The other peak is Crowders Mountain. The park is located in the western Piedmont of North Carolina between the cities of Kings Mountain and Gastonia.

Moore's Knob

Moore's Knob is the highest mountain in the Sauratown Mountains of Stokes County, North Carolina. The Sauratown Mountains are an isolated remnant of the much larger Blue Ridge Mountains far to the west and north. A rugged, deeply eroded range, the Sauras feature dramatic rock cliffs which can be seen for miles. Moore's Knob has an elevation of 2,579 feet (786 meters) above sea level.

Moore's Knob sharply rises more than 1,700 feet (520 m) above the surrounding countryside, and it dominates the scenery of Stokes County from almost every direction. The mountain's north side contains Moore's Wall, a huge rock cliff over 400 feet (120 m) in height; the cliff is a favorite destination of rock climbers. The top of the mountain contains an abandoned fire lookout tower; hikers who climb the tower are rewarded with sweeping views of the surrounding countryside and Sauratown mountain range. On a clear day it is possible to see the skyscrapers of Winston-Salem, North Carolina to the south, the uniquely shaped Pilot Mountain some 12 miles (20 km) to the west, and the lofty front ridges of the Blue Ridge Mountains far to the west and north. Moore's Knob is contained within Hanging Rock State Park, and the park maintains a number of hiking and climbing trails on the mountain.

Nanny Mountain

Nanny Mountain is a mountain summit in York County in the state of South Carolina (SC). Nanny Mountain climbs to an elevation of 981 feet (299 m) above sea level. The mountain is located near Lake Wylie and was privately owned, but now it is currently open to the public from 8am to 6pm and the park is owned and operated by York County Parks.

Occoneechee Mountain State Natural Area

Occoneechee Mountain State Natural Area is a North Carolina state park in Orange County, North Carolina in the United States. Located adjacent to the town of Hillsborough, it covers 190 acres (0.77 km2) and includes Occoneechee Mountain, the highest point (867 ft) in Orange County and a settlement of the Occaneechi tribe.

Paris Mountain State Park

Paris Mountain State Park is located five miles (8 km) north of Greenville, South Carolina. Activities available in the 1,540-acre (6 km2) park include hiking, biking, swimming and picnicking. The 13-acre (52,609 m2) Lake Placid offers swimming and fishing. Canoes, kayaks, and pedal boats are seasonally available for rental; private boats are not permitted. Camping is allowed and campsites range from rustic, back country sites to paved sites with water and electricity hook-ups. The park's Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) structures, including the Camp Buckhorn lodge, are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. m.

Pilot Mountain (North Carolina)

Pilot Mountain, a metamorphic quartzite monadnock rising to a peak 2,421 feet (738 m) above sea level, is one of the most distinctive natural features in the U.S. state of North Carolina. It is a remnant of the ancient chain of Sauratown Mountains. The Saura Indians, the region's earliest known inhabitants, called the mountain "Jomeokee", meaning "great guide".U.S. Route 52 passes through the town of Pilot Mountain near the mountain, and the city of Mount Airy is some miles farther north. Pilot Mountain is part of the A.V.A Yadkin Valley, an American Viticultural Area comprising over 50 wineries, including a few wineries in the town of Pilot Mountain.

Pilot Mountain has two distinctive features, named Big and Little Pinnacle. Big Pinnacle (also called "The Knob") has high and colorful bare rock walls, with a rounded top covered by vegetation, reaching approximately 1,400 feet (430 m) above the surrounding terrain. Visitors can take a paved road to the park visitor center and campgrounds, then up to a parking lot on the ridge. Trails from there allow access to the main Little Pinnacle Overlook and other viewing stations.

Pilot Mountain is part of Pilot Mountain State Park, which extends to the Yadkin River via a corridor of land, and it is associated with nearby Horne Creek Living Historical Farm. The curved depression between the ridge slope to the Little Pinnacle and then to the round knob of the Big Pinnacle gives the entire mountain an even more distinctive shape from a distance. Other interesting rock formations are to the east at privately held Sauratown Mountain, and the higher complex at Hanging Rock State Park.

Pores Knob

Pores Knob is a mountain peak located in Wilkes County, North Carolina, USA.

Ramapo Mountains

The Ramapo Mountains are a forested chain of the Appalachian Mountains in northeastern New Jersey and southeastern New York, in the United States. They range in height from 900 to 1,200 feet in New Jersey, and 900 to 1,400 feet in New York (270–420 meters).

A number of parks and forest preserves encompass parts of the Ramapos (see Points of interest, below), and there are many hiking trails in the Ramapos, including sections of the Appalachian Trail, which is maintained and updated in the Ramapo Mountains by the New York–New Jersey Trail Conference.

The mountains are named after the Ramapo Fault, which trends northeast - southwest and separates the eastern Piedmont (United States) geologic province from the Highland province.

The ramapo rocks consist of gneiss, granite and marble, dating as old as 1.3 billion years (1.3 GA).

Sauratown Mountains

The Sauratown Mountains,( Pronounced Sar-a -town like Laura not Sour) which are sometimes called "the mountains away from the mountains", are an isolated mountain range located within Stokes and Surry counties in the U.S. state of North Carolina. The vast majority of the range is located in Stokes County, and even though the range occupies only 5% of Stokes County's area, it dominates the county's scenery from almost every direction. The Sauras rise sharply 800 to 1,700 feet (244 to 518 meters) above the surrounding terrain. The Sauratown Mountains were named after the "Sauras", a Native American tribe that lived in the area before European settlers arrived in the early 1700s. The range consists of rugged, heavily forested ridges frequently broken by large quartzite rock cliffs that can be seen for miles. The Sauratown Mountains are known for offering some of the best rock climbing in North Carolina. The highest point in the Sauratown Mountains is Moore's Knob, which rises to 2,579 feet (786 m).

The range is home to Hanging Rock State Park, which was formed in 1936 and contains Moore's Knob and other prominent peaks in the Sauratown Mountains. From 1935 to 1942 the Civilian Conservation Corps, a New Deal agency, built a dam and 12-acre (49,000 m2) lake in the park, as well as hiking and climbing trails and picnic and campground areas.Uniquely shaped Pilot Mountain is also located in the range. Pilot Mountain State Park encompasses the westernmost end of the range.

A hiking and bridle trail, known as the Sauratown Trail, crosses the range and interconnects the two state parks. The Mountains-to-Sea Trail follows the Sauratown Trail, and it passes through both parks.The range is visible on a clear day from downtown Winston-Salem, North Carolina and Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center.

South Mountains (North Carolina)

The South Mountains are an ancient and deeply eroded mountain range in western North Carolina. They are an isolated remnant of the much larger Appalachian Mountains to the west, and are separated from the Appalachians by the Catawba River valley. The range covers approximately 100,000 acres (400 km²) in Burke, Cleveland, McDowell and Rutherford counties. The South Mountains are the highest and most rugged chain of the isolated mountain ranges which dot North Carolina's Piedmont region. The highest point in the range is Buzzard Roost, which rises to 2,980 feet (908 m) above sea level. The South Mountains are heavily forested with Southeastern mixed forests. Water erosion from numerous rivers and streams has given the mountains narrow ridges and valleys.

The mountains were once inhabited by the Cherokee Indian tribe; after gold was discovered in the mountains in the 19th century numerous prospectors moved into the area, and by the time the mines closed in the early 20th century over $1 million in gold had been found. Today the mountains are sparsely populated, and no communities of more than a few hundred people are located in the immediate region (the largest nearby city is Morganton, North Carolina, located five miles north of the range). Most of the South Mountains remain in the hands of private owners. However, in 1973 the State of North Carolina paid $1.5 million to acquire 5,779 acres (23.4 km²) of land in the South Mountains, and in 1975 the South Mountains State Park was created. Today the park covers nearly 17,000 acres (69 km²), and includes the impressive High Shoals Falls, which cascade over 80 feet down a sheer cliff and form a large, deep pool at the bottom. The park, like most of the South Mountains, is largely undeveloped, and much of it is still wilderness. Numerous rare and endangered plants lie within its boundaries, much of them documented by botanist Bill Moye, whose efforts helped expand the park to its present size.

Stone Mountain (North Carolina)

Stone Mountain is the centerpiece of Stone Mountain State Park. It is a dome of exposed granite (specifically a quartz diorite to granodiorite) of Devonian age, which has intruded into the gneiss of the Precambrian Alligator Back Formation. It rises sharply over 600 feet (183 m) above the surrounding terrain. The mountain, which has an elevation of 2,305 feet (706 m) above sea level, is known for its barren sides and distinctive brown-gray color, and can be seen for miles. The mountain offers some of the best rock climbing in North Carolina, and the park's creeks and streams feature excellent brook trout fishing.

Because the mountain is the best example of a monadnock in massive granite in North Carolina it was designated a National Natural Landmark in May 1974.

Stone Mountain State Park

Stone Mountain State Park is a 14,351-acre (58.08 km2) North Carolina state park in Alleghany County and Wilkes County, North Carolina.

Thicketty Mountain

Thicketty Mountain is a mountain summit in northwestern Cherokee County in the state of South Carolina (SC). Thicketty Mountain climbs to an elevation of around 1,194 feet (364 meters). Thicketty Mountain is also one of the three mountain peaks of Cherokee County.

Whitaker Mountain

Whitaker Mountain is a mountain summit in Cherokee County in the state of South Carolina (SC) and is one of the three mountain peaks in Cherokee County. Whitaker Mountain climbs to an elevation of around 1,169 feet (313 meters) above sea level. Whitaker Mountain is located within the town of Blacksburg, South Carolina.

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