Nature Journal: What exactly does 'Blue Ridge' mean?

(Photo: Elizabeth Ellison/Courtesy of the artist) Author’s note: Several weeks ago, the Nature Journal focused on various geographic and geologic aspects of the Appalachian mountains. Reader response was such that I decided to take another look in that direction this week, focusing on what the designation “Blue Ridge” means or doesn’t mean. It is my considered opinion that an informed sense of place is not only comforting but almost essential. I firmly believe that knowing “where” you are can help you discover “who” you are. Part of that process is learning to read the lay of the land — the peaks, ridges, valleys, creeks, rivers, trails, high vistas and so on. That endeavor becomes more complex (and interesting) when there is little or no agreement as to the identity or extent of many places and things encountered along the way. What, for instance, do you envision when you read about or hear someone refer to the “Blue Ridge”? Like the Alleghenies, which also has multiple definitions, the designation “Blue Ridge” is amorphous. There are, in fact, at least three often overlapping versions: 1) the Blue Ridge “escarpment” or “front” that arises abruptly on the western edge of the Piedmont […]

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