Blue Ridge, or Blue Ridge
Mountains, is a physiographic province of
the larger Appalachian
Mountains range. This province consists of northern and
southern physiographic regions, which divide near the Roanoke River gap. The mountain range is located in the eastern United
States, starting at its southern-most portion in Georgia, then ending northward in Pennsylvania.
To the west of the Blue Ridge, between it
and the bulk of the Appalachians, lies the Great Appalachian Valley
on the west by the Ridge
province of the Appalachian range.
The Blue Ridge Mountains are noted for their bluish color when seen
from a distance. Trees put the "blue" in Blue Ridge, from the
released into the atmosphere,
thereby contributing to the characteristic haze on the mountains
and their distinctive color.
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. The Blue Ridge also
contains the Blue Ridge
Parkway, a long scenic highway that connects the two parks
and is located along the ridge crestlines along the Appalachian
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 Brushy Mountains (a "spur"
of the Blue Ridge) and other mountain
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 forms 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.
- See also: List of mountains of the
The Blue Ridge contains the highest mountains in eastern North
America. About 125 peaksexceed in elevation. The highest peak in
the Blue Ridge (and in the entire Appalachian chain) is Mt. Mitchell in North
Carolina at .
39 peaks in North Carolina and Tennessee higher than ; by
comparison, only New
Hampshire's Mt. Washington rises above in the northern portion of the
Parkway runs 469 miles (750 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
) with folded bands of light-and dark-colored
minerals, which sometimes look like the folds and swirls in a
Most of the rocks that form the Blue Ridge Mountains are ancient
, metamorphosed volcanic formations,
and sedimentary limestones. 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
including orthopyroxene-bearing charnockites. Analysis of zircon
minerals in the granites completed by John
Aleinikoff at the U.S.
provided more detailed emplacement ages.
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
the Blue Ridge is distinct from the Adirondacks
, Green Mountains
, and possibly the New York-New Jersey Highlands
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.
The Blue Ridge Mountains began forming during the Silurian Period
over 400 million years ago. Approx. 320 mya, North America and
Europe collided, pushing the Blue Ridges up higher.
English who settled Virginia in the early 1600s recorded that the native
Powhatan name for the Blue Ridge was
At the foot of the Blue Ridge, various tribes including the
, and the Shawnee
hunted and fished. As more settlers moved
into Virginia, their economic and at times martial competition
pushed the native inhabitants west.
Flora and fauna
- The celebrated 1971 John Denver song "Take Me Home, Country
- John Fogerty's first solo album,
released in 1973, is called The
Blue Ridge Rangers, and also contains a cover of "Blue Ridge
- The song "Old Dominion" by Eddie
- The song "Honeysuckle Blue" by Drivin
- The song "Stonewall Jackson's Way"
- The song 'Baltimore' by the Virginia based band The Hackensaw Boys features the line "the
Blue Ridge Mountains calling me back home".
- Been All Around This World - The
Grateful Dead. "Up On The Blue Ridge Mountains, there I'll make
- The song "Blue Ridge Mountain Sky" by The Marshall Tucker Band.
- The song "Blue Ridge" by Annuals.
- The song "Blue Ridge" by Bob Artis, often performed by The Seldom Scene.
- The song "Blue Ridge Mountain Blues" by Earl Scruggs.
- The song "Blue Ridge Mountains" by Fleet
Foxes contains the lyrics "...I heard that you missed your
connecting flight, to the Blue Ridge Mountains over near
- The band piece "Blue Ridge Saga" by James Swearingen.
- Kristin Hersh's "Houdini Blues,"
co-written with her father, has the lines: "I been on the other
side of the Blue Ridge/Seen the Shenandoah rollin' there."
- Song and album "My Blue
Ridge Mountain Boy" by Dolly
- Country-folk singer Townes van Zandt sang "My home is in the
Blue Ridge Mountains" in the song "Blue Ridge Mountains"
- The song "Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia", by NWOBHM band Tokyo
- The song "Spin on a Red Brick Floor" by Nanci Griffith contains the lyrics "Oh the
Blue Ridge mountains at the fall of the night; it sure feels good
when you cross that line"
- The Trail of
the Lonesome Pine
- Olson, Ted (1998). Blue Ridge Folklife, University
Press of Mississippi. ISBN 1-57806-023-0.