Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Black Mountains

During a visit to Mt. Mitchell several years ago, I picked up a copy of A History of Mt. Mitchell and the Black Mountains at the state park's gift store. It sat on my bookshelf for years, squeezed between Tales of Edisto and Bushwackers, but I finally cracked it open last month. I'm sorry I waited so long to read it.

Beginning with the Pisgah tribe, author S. Kent Schwarzkopf takes the reader from the earliest known history of the Black Mountains through initial exploration, logging and tourism, all of which changed the face of the once isolated range. I learned about Andre' Michaux, whose name I'd previously associated with explorer John Lawson and an orchid, and the true nature of the controversy between Elisha Mitchell and Thomas L. Clingman (it was not, as is frequently reported, a dispute involving a peak in the Smoky Mountains.) I read details of Reverend Mitchell's death and the search for his body, and the invaluable work of Arnold Guyot.

A History of Mt. Mitchell and the Black Mountains is a must for anyone interested in that particular range, or in North Carolina history. It's available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and many gift shops along the Blue Ridge Parkway.

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