2009 Spring 2 Fall travel blog

the creek we followed on our morning walk

looking downstream

not easy to get a root into this rock!

from this ledge we could hear the falls but we couldn't see...

mountain laurel


the trail back

foliage study

mountain laurel

trail back

forest sculpture

dying butterfly

it was still alive but just barely

our campsite at Crabtree Meadows Campground

Alaskite and Pegmatite



Magnetic Iron Ore

Dolomite Marble

this is where the 'overmountain men' crossed Gillespie Gap to beat the...

warn't no signs to direct ya neither!

someone threw these crackers out at one of the turnouts

and these ravens were stocking up

trying to see just how much they could cram into their beaks

The Museum of North Carolina Minerals at Gillespie Pass - Monday, June 1

We got a late start today, spending two hours in the morning to take a three mile hike in the woods. We followed a creek that got bigger and stronger as other creeks flowed into it. In the distance we could hear the sound of Crabtree Falls, but the stairway down to it was so steep and precipitous we decided to skip it. We still had a mile and a half of uphill hike to get back to our campsite, and this would have added another hundred feet or more of elevation. Besides, we’ve seen a lot of falls this year and you just can’t see them all.

Back on the Parkway our first stop was at the Museum of North Carolina Minerals. It is housed in a Visitor Center at Gillespie Gap, a mountain pass made famous in the American Revolution. In 1780, after a string of victories in the south, it looked like the British had the Carolina colonists on the ropes. A British Major named Ferguson decided to finish them off. He gathered together a force of a thousand colonial Loyalists and he marched deep into the Carolina heartland with the announced intent of killing off any Carolina militiamen who wouldn’t swear allegiance to King George.

Word of his plans got out, and the arrogance of it enraged the mountain militiamen. They gathered a force themselves, and they crossed the Blue Ridge Mountains through Gillespie Gap, hunted Ferguson’s army down and they killed or captured every one of them at the Battle of Kings Mountain. News of the victory rallied the Continental Army, and better yet it put Cornwallis and his army into retreat. Instead of trying to invade farther into the south, Cornwallis turned north to Virginia, and in 1781 he was bottled up by the French Navy at Yorktown and he was forced to surrender his army. For all practical purposes the Revolution was won.

The mineral museum is not a large one, but it is well presented and it is very informative. From a circle of huge boulders out front, to a series of excellent exhibits, it explains the state’s geology in clear layman’s terms, and shows the visitor the amazing range of North Carolina’s mineral deposits. From gemstone emeralds, rubies and sapphires to commercially valuable feldspar, mica and quartz, North Carolina has rich deposits of many minerals and ores.

The center is located in the Spruce Pine Mining District, home to some of the richest mineral deposits in the state. Almost all of the nation’s feldspar comes from here, and the computer industry relies heavily on the quartz deposits in the district, which are some of the purest in existence. Pushed to the surface by the pressures that formed the Appalachians themselves, these deposits are easily reached, and easily mined.

The rest of the day was spent driving north to Linville Falls, a short distance of some 15 miles. The falls flows into one of the deepest gorges east of the Mississippi, and with the spring rains this area has recently enjoyed the falls should be flowing a lot harder than it was last November when we were here last. The walk to the falls is rated as ‘strenuous’, and since we got our strenuous walk in early today, we settled into a nice site in their campground and took a well deserved nap instead.

There is plenty of time tomorrow to add Linville to our growing list of conquered waterfalls. Of all our blessings, time is one we value most!

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