Appalachian Mountains
Overview
 
The Appalachian Mountains ( or ˌThere are at least eight possible pronunciations depending on three factors:
  1. Whether the stressed vowel is eɪ or æ,
  2. Whether the "ch" is pronounced as a fricative ʃ or an affricate tʃ, and
  3. Whether the final vowel is the monophthong
    Monophthong
    A monophthong is a pure vowel sound, one whose articulation at both beginning and end is relatively fixed, and which does not glide up or down towards a new position of articulation....

     ɨ or the diphthong
    Diphthong
    A diphthong , also known as a gliding vowel, refers to two adjacent vowel sounds occurring within the same syllable. Technically, a diphthong is a vowel with two different targets: That is, the tongue moves during the pronunciation of the vowel...

     i.), often called the Appalachians, are a system of mountains
    Mountain range
    A mountain range is a single, large mass consisting of a succession of mountains or narrowly spaced mountain ridges, with or without peaks, closely related in position, direction, formation, and age; a component part of a mountain system or of a mountain chain...

     in eastern North America
    North America
    North America is a continent wholly within the Northern Hemisphere and almost wholly within the Western Hemisphere. It is also considered a northern subcontinent of the Americas...

    .
Encyclopedia
The Appalachian Mountains ( or ˌThere are at least eight possible pronunciations depending on three factors:
  1. Whether the stressed vowel is eɪ or æ,
  2. Whether the "ch" is pronounced as a fricative ʃ or an affricate tʃ, and
  3. Whether the final vowel is the monophthong
    Monophthong
    A monophthong is a pure vowel sound, one whose articulation at both beginning and end is relatively fixed, and which does not glide up or down towards a new position of articulation....

     ɨ or the diphthong
    Diphthong
    A diphthong , also known as a gliding vowel, refers to two adjacent vowel sounds occurring within the same syllable. Technically, a diphthong is a vowel with two different targets: That is, the tongue moves during the pronunciation of the vowel...

     i.), often called the Appalachians, are a system of mountains
    Mountain range
    A mountain range is a single, large mass consisting of a succession of mountains or narrowly spaced mountain ridges, with or without peaks, closely related in position, direction, formation, and age; a component part of a mountain system or of a mountain chain...

     in eastern North America
    North America
    North America is a continent wholly within the Northern Hemisphere and almost wholly within the Western Hemisphere. It is also considered a northern subcontinent of the Americas...

    . The Appalachians first formed roughly 480 million years ago during the Ordovician Period
    Ordovician
    The Ordovician is a geologic period and system, the second of six of the Paleozoic Era, and covers the time between 488.3±1.7 to 443.7±1.5 million years ago . It follows the Cambrian Period and is followed by the Silurian Period...

    . The Appalachian chain is a barrier to east-west travel as it forms a series of alternating ridgelines and valleys
    Ridge-and-valley Appalachians
    The Ridge-and-Valley Appalachians, also called the Ridge and Valley Province or the Valley and Ridge Appalachians, are a physiographic province of the larger Appalachian division and are also a belt within the Appalachian Mountains extending from southeastern New York through northwestern New...

     oriented in opposition to any road running east-west.


Definitions vary on the precise boundaries of the Appalachians. The United States Geological Survey
United States Geological Survey
The United States Geological Survey is a scientific agency of the United States government. The scientists of the USGS study the landscape of the United States, its natural resources, and the natural hazards that threaten it. The organization has four major science disciplines, concerning biology,...

 (USGS) defines the Appalachian Highlands physiographic division
Physiographic regions of the world
The physiographic regions of the world are a means of defining the Earth's landforms into distinct regions based upon classic 1916 three-tiered approach defining divisions, provinces, and sections...

 as consisting of thirteen provinces: the Atlantic Coast Uplands, Eastern Newfoundland Atlantic, Maritime Acadian Highlands, Maritime Plain
Maritime Plain
The Maritime Plain is a physiographic province of the larger Appalachian division. The Maritime Plain runs around the coast of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia from the south shore of Chaleur Bay and includes Prince Edward Island and Îles-de-la-Madeleine...

, Notre Dame and Mégantic Mountains
Notre Dame and Megantic Mountains
The Notre Dame and Mégantic Mountains are a physiographic province of the larger Appalachian division, and also contains the Chic-Choc Mountains. The Notre Dame Mountains rise to a level of approximately 2,000 ft above sea level and extend southwest to northeast, south of the St. Lawrence River...

, Western Newfoundland Mountains, Piedmont
Piedmont (United States)
The Piedmont is a plateau region located in the eastern United States 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...

, Blue Ridge
Blue Ridge Mountains
The Blue Ridge Mountains are 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...

, Valley and Ridge
Ridge-and-valley Appalachians
The Ridge-and-Valley Appalachians, also called the Ridge and Valley Province or the Valley and Ridge Appalachians, are a physiographic province of the larger Appalachian division and are also a belt within the Appalachian Mountains extending from southeastern New York through northwestern New...

, Saint Lawrence Valley
Saint Lawrence River
The Saint Lawrence is a large river flowing approximately from southwest to northeast in the middle latitudes of North America, connecting the Great Lakes with the Atlantic Ocean. It is the primary drainage conveyor of the Great Lakes Basin...

, Appalachian Plateau
Appalachian Plateau
The Appalachian Plateau is the western part of the Appalachian mountains, stretching from New York and Alabama. The plateau is a second level United States physiographic region....

s, New England province
New England province
The New England province is a physiographic province of the larger Appalachian division of eastern North America. The province consists of the Seaboard Lowland, New England Upland, White Mountain, Green Mountain, and Taconic sections.-Geology:...

, and the Adirondack
Adirondack Mountains
The Adirondack Mountains are a mountain range located in the northeastern part of New York, that runs through Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Fulton, Hamilton, Herkimer, Lewis, Saint Lawrence, Saratoga, Warren, and Washington counties....

 provinces. name="USGS-Water">
A common variant definition does not include the Adirondack Mountains
Adirondack Mountains
The Adirondack Mountains are a mountain range located in the northeastern part of New York, that runs through Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Fulton, Hamilton, Herkimer, Lewis, Saint Lawrence, Saratoga, Warren, and Washington counties....

, which are often said to have more in common with the Canadian Shield
Canadian Shield
The Canadian Shield, also called the Laurentian Plateau, or Bouclier Canadien , is a vast geological shield covered by a thin layer of soil that forms the nucleus of the North American or Laurentia craton. It is an area mostly composed of igneous rock which relates to its long volcanic history...

 than the Appalachians. name=geomorph> name=peakbag>
name=weidensaul>

Overview

The range is mostly located in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 but extends into southeastern Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

, forming a zone from 100 to 300 miles (160 to 480 km) wide, running from the island of Newfoundland 1,500 miles (2,400 km) south-westward to Central Alabama
Central Alabama
Central Alabama is the region in the state of Alabama that stretches approximately 170 miles  from the western border with Mississippi to eastern border with Georgia and 136 miles  from the northern border of Cullman County to the Alabama River in southern Autauga County. With a...

 in the United States. The system is divided into a series of ranges, with the individual mountains averaging around 3,000 ft (900 m). The highest of the group is Mount Mitchell
Mount Mitchell (North Carolina)
Mount Mitchell is the highest peak of the Appalachian Mountains and the highest peak in the eastern United States. It was the highest point in any state of the United States until Texas joined the union in 1845. The nearest higher point east of the Rocky Mountains is Harney Peak in the Black Hills...

 in North Carolina
North Carolina
North Carolina is a state located in the southeastern United States. The state borders South Carolina and Georgia to the south, Tennessee to the west and Virginia to the north. North Carolina contains 100 counties. Its capital is Raleigh, and its largest city is Charlotte...

 at 6684 feet (2,037 m), which is the highest point in the United States east of the Mississippi River
Mississippi River
The Mississippi River is the largest river system in North America. Flowing entirely in the United States, this river rises in western Minnesota and meanders slowly southwards for to the Mississippi River Delta at the Gulf of Mexico. With its many tributaries, the Mississippi's watershed drains...

.

The term Appalachian refers to several different regions associated with the mountain range. Most broadly, it refers to the entire mountain range with its surrounding hills and the dissected plateau region. However, the term is often used more restrictively to refer to regions in the central and southern Appalachian Mountains, usually including areas in the states of Kentucky
Kentucky
The Commonwealth of Kentucky is a state located in the East Central United States of America. As classified by the United States Census Bureau, Kentucky is a Southern state, more specifically in the East South Central region. Kentucky is one of four U.S. states constituted as a commonwealth...

, Tennessee
Tennessee
Tennessee is a U.S. state located in the Southeastern United States. It has a population of 6,346,105, making it the nation's 17th-largest state by population, and covers , making it the 36th-largest by total land area...

, Virginia
Virginia
The Commonwealth of Virginia , is a U.S. state on the Atlantic Coast of the Southern United States. Virginia is nicknamed the "Old Dominion" and sometimes the "Mother of Presidents" after the eight U.S. presidents born there...

, Maryland
Maryland
Maryland is a U.S. state located in the Mid Atlantic region of the United States, bordering Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia to its south and west; Pennsylvania to its north; and Delaware to its east...

, West Virginia
West Virginia
West Virginia is a state in the Appalachian and Southeastern regions of the United States, bordered by Virginia to the southeast, Kentucky to the southwest, Ohio to the northwest, Pennsylvania to the northeast and Maryland to the east...

, and North Carolina
North Carolina
North Carolina is a state located in the southeastern United States. The state borders South Carolina and Georgia to the south, Tennessee to the west and Virginia to the north. North Carolina contains 100 counties. Its capital is Raleigh, and its largest city is Charlotte...

, as well as sometimes extending as far south as northern Georgia
Georgia (U.S. state)
Georgia is a state located in the southeastern United States. It was established in 1732, the last of the original Thirteen Colonies. The state is named after King George II of Great Britain. Georgia was the fourth state to ratify the United States Constitution, on January 2, 1788...

 and western South Carolina
South Carolina
South Carolina is a state in the Deep South of the United States that borders Georgia to the south, North Carolina to the north, and the Atlantic Ocean to the east. Originally part of the Province of Carolina, the Province of South Carolina was one of the 13 colonies that declared independence...

, as far north as Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is a U.S. state that is located in the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States. The state borders Delaware and Maryland to the south, West Virginia to the southwest, Ohio to the west, New York and Ontario, Canada, to the north, and New Jersey to...

 and southern Ohio
Ohio
Ohio is a Midwestern state in the United States. The 34th largest state by area in the U.S.,it is the 7th‑most populous with over 11.5 million residents, containing several major American cities and seven metropolitan areas with populations of 500,000 or more.The state's capital is Columbus...

.

The Ouachita Mountains
Ouachita Mountains
The Ouachita Mountains are a mountain range in west central Arkansas and southeastern Oklahoma. The range's subterranean roots may extend as far as central Texas, or beyond it to the current location of the Marathon Uplift. Along with the Ozark Mountains, the Ouachita Mountains form the U.S...

 in Arkansas
Arkansas
Arkansas is a state located in the southern region of the United States. Its name is an Algonquian name of the Quapaw Indians. Arkansas shares borders with six states , and its eastern border is largely defined by the Mississippi River...

 and Oklahoma
Oklahoma
Oklahoma is a state located in the South Central region of the United States of America. With an estimated 3,751,351 residents as of the 2010 census and a land area of 68,667 square miles , Oklahoma is the 28th most populous and 20th-largest state...

 were originally part of the Appalachians as well, but became disconnected through geologic history.

While exploring inland along the northern coast of Florida in 1528, the members of the Narváez expedition
Narváez expedition
The Narváez expedition was a Spanish attempt during the years 1527–1528 to colonize Spanish Florida. It was led by Pánfilo de Narváez, who was to rule as adelantado....

, including Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca
Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca
Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca was a Spanish explorer of the New World, one of four survivors of the Narváez expedition...

, found a Native American
Native Americans in the United States
Native Americans in the United States are the indigenous peoples in North America within the boundaries of the present-day continental United States, parts of Alaska, and the island state of Hawaii. They are composed of numerous, distinct tribes, states, and ethnic groups, many of which survive as...

 village near present-day Tallahassee, Florida
Tallahassee, Florida
Tallahassee is the capital of the U.S. state of Florida. It is the county seat and only incorporated municipality in Leon County, and is the 128th largest city in the United States. Tallahassee became the capital of Florida, then the Florida Territory, in 1824. In 2010, the population recorded by...

 whose name they transcribed as Apalchen or Apalachen [a.paˈla.tʃɛn]. The name was soon altered by the Spanish to Apalachee
Apalachee
The Apalachee are a Native American people who historically lived in the Florida Panhandle, and now live primarily in the U.S. state of Louisiana. Their historical territory was known to the Spanish colonists as the Apalachee Province...

 and used as a name for the tribe and region spreading well inland to the north. Pánfilo de Narváez
Pánfilo de Narváez
Pánfilo de Narváez was a Spanish conqueror and soldier in the Americas. He is most remembered as the leader of two expeditions, one to Mexico in 1520 to oppose Hernán Cortés, and the disastrous Narváez expedition to Florida in 1527....

's expedition first entered Apalachee territory on June 15, 1528 and applied the name. Now spelled "Appalachian", it is the fourth oldest surviving European place-name in the U.S.

After the de Soto expedition
Hernando de Soto (explorer)
Hernando de Soto was a Spanish explorer and conquistador who, while leading the first European expedition deep into the territory of the modern-day United States, was the first European documented to have crossed the Mississippi River....

 in 1540, Spanish cartographers began to apply the name of the tribe to the mountains themselves. The first cartographic appearance of Apalchen is on Diego Gutierrez
Diego Gutiérrez (cartographer)
Diego Gutiérrez was a Spanish cosmographer and cartographer of the Casa de la Contratación. He was given this post by royal appointment on October 22, 1554, after the death of his father Dylanger in January 1554, and worked on the Padrón Real....

' map of 1562; the first use for the mountain range is the map of Jacques le Moyne de Morgues in 1565.

The name was not commonly used for the whole mountain range until the late 19th century. A competing and often more popular name was the "Allegheny Mountains
Allegheny Mountains
The Allegheny Mountain Range , also spelled Alleghany, Allegany and, informally, the Alleghenies, is part of the vast Appalachian Mountain Range of the eastern United States and Canada...

", "Alleghenies", and even "Alleghania." In the early 19th century, Washington Irving
Washington Irving
Washington Irving was an American author, essayist, biographer and historian of the early 19th century. He was best known for his short stories "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" and "Rip Van Winkle", both of which appear in his book The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. His historical works...

 proposed renaming the United States either Appalachia or Alleghania.

In U.S. dialects of the southern portions of the Appalachians, the word is pronounced /ˌæpəˈlætʃɨnz/, with the third syllable sounding like "latch". In northern parts of the mountain range, it is pronounced /ˌæpəˈleɪtʃɨnz/ or /ˌæpəˈleɪʃɨnz/; the third syllable is like "lay", and the fourth "chins" or "shins". Elsewhere, a commonly accepted pronunciation for the adjective Appalachian is /ˌæpəˈlætʃiən/, with the last two syllables "-ian" pronounced as in the word "Italian."

Regions

The whole system may be divided into three great sections: the Northern, from the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador
Newfoundland and Labrador
Newfoundland and Labrador is the easternmost province of Canada. Situated in the country's Atlantic region, it incorporates the island of Newfoundland and mainland Labrador with a combined area of . As of April 2011, the province's estimated population is 508,400...

 to the Hudson River
Hudson River
The Hudson is a river that flows from north to south through eastern New York. The highest official source is at Lake Tear of the Clouds, on the slopes of Mount Marcy in the Adirondack Mountains. The river itself officially begins in Henderson Lake in Newcomb, New York...

; the Central, from the Hudson Valley to the New River (Great Kanawha) running through Virginia and West Virginia; and the Southern, from the New River onwards.

The northern section includes the Long Range Mountains
Long Range Mountains
The Long Range Mountains are a series of mountains along the west coast of the Canadian island of Newfoundland. They also form the northernmost section of the Appalachian chain on the eastern seaboard of North America...

 and Annieopsquotch Mountains
Annieopsquotch Mountains
The Annieopsquotch Mountains are located in the southwestern interior of the Canadian island of Newfoundland, east of Bay St. George. Rising to a peak of above sea level, this range of hills runs in a north-eastward direction between Victoria Lake and Red Indian Lake...

 on the island of Newfoundland, Chic-Choc Mountains
Chic-Choc Mountains
The Chic-Choc Mountains, often called Shick Shocks in English, is a group of mountains in the central Gaspé Peninsula in Quebec, Canada. It is a part of the Notre Dame Mountains, which is a continuation of the Appalachian Mountains....

 and Notre Dame Range
Notre Dame Mountains
The Notre Dame Mountains are a portion of the Appalachian Mountains, extending from the Gaspé Peninsula of Quebec to the Green Mountains of Vermont....

 in Quebec and New Brunswick, scattered elevations and small ranges elsewhere in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, the Longfellow Mountains
Longfellow Mountains
In 1959, the Maine Legislature voted to give the various mountains and ranges in Maine the collective name of the Longfellow Mountains, in honor of the Maine-born poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow . Despite its official status, the term has very little currency...

 in Maine, the White Mountains
White Mountains (New Hampshire)
The White Mountains are a mountain range covering about a quarter of the state of New Hampshire and a small portion of western Maine in the United States. Part of the Appalachian Mountains, they are considered the most rugged mountains in New England...

 in New Hampshire, the Green Mountains
Green Mountains
The Green Mountains are a mountain range in the U.S. state of Vermont. The range extends approximately .-Peaks:The most notable mountains in the range include:*Mount Mansfield, , the highest point in Vermont*Killington Peak, *Mount Ellen,...

 in Vermont, and The Berkshires
The Berkshires
The Berkshires , is a highland geologic region located in the western parts of Massachusetts and Connecticut.Also referred to as the Berkshire Hills, Berkshire Mountains, and Berkshire Plateau, the region enjoys a vibrant tourism industry based on music, arts, and recreation.-Definition:The term...

 in Massachusetts and Connecticut. The Metacomet Ridge Mountains
Metacomet Ridge
The Metacomet Ridge, Metacomet Ridge Mountains, or Metacomet Range of southern New England, United States, is a narrow and steep fault-block mountain ridge known for its extensive cliff faces, scenic vistas, microclimate ecosystems, and communities of plants considered rare or endangered...

 in Connecticut and south-central Massachusetts, although contained within the Appalachian province, is a younger system and not geologically associated with the Appalachians. The central section comprises, excluding various minor groups, the Valley Ridges
Ridge-and-valley Appalachians
The Ridge-and-Valley Appalachians, also called the Ridge and Valley Province or the Valley and Ridge Appalachians, are a physiographic province of the larger Appalachian division and are also a belt within the Appalachian Mountains extending from southeastern New York through northwestern New...

 between the Allegheny Front
Allegheny Front
The Allegheny Front is the major southeast- or east-facing escarpment in the Allegheny Mountains in southern Pennsylvania, western Maryland, and eastern West Virginia, USA. The Allegheny Front delineates the Ridge-and-Valley Appalachians to its east from the Appalachian Plateau to its west...

 of the Allegheny Plateau
Allegheny Plateau
The Allegheny Plateau is a large dissected plateau area in western and central New York, northern and western Pennsylvania, northern and western West Virginia, and eastern Ohio...

 and the Great Appalachian Valley
Great Appalachian Valley
The Great Valley, also called the Great Appalachian Valley or Great Valley Region, is one of the major landform features of eastern North America. It is a gigantic trough — a chain of valley lowlands — and the central feature of the Appalachian Mountain system...

, the New York - New Jersey Highlands
New York - New Jersey Highlands
The New York – New Jersey Highlands is a geological formation composed primarily of precambrian igneous and metamorphic rock running from the Delaware River near Musconetcong Mountain, northeast through the Skylands Region of New Jersey along the Bearfort Ridge and the Ramapo Mountains, Sterling...

, the Taconic Mountains
Taconic Mountains
The Taconic Mountains or Taconic Range are a physiographic section of the larger New England province and part of the Appalachian Mountains, running along the eastern border of New York State and adjacent New England from northwest Connecticut to western Massachusetts, north to central western...

 in New York, and a large portion of the Blue Ridge
Blue Ridge Mountains
The Blue Ridge Mountains are 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...

. The southern section consists of the prolongation of the Blue Ridge, which is divided into the Western Blue Ridge (or Unaka) Front and the Eastern Blue Ridge Front, the Ridge-and-Valley Appalachians
Ridge-and-valley Appalachians
The Ridge-and-Valley Appalachians, also called the Ridge and Valley Province or the Valley and Ridge Appalachians, are a physiographic province of the larger Appalachian division and are also a belt within the Appalachian Mountains extending from southeastern New York through northwestern New...

, and the Cumberland Plateau
Cumberland Plateau
The Cumberland Plateau is the southern part of the Appalachian Plateau. It includes much of eastern Kentucky and western West Virginia, part of Tennessee, and a small portion of northern Alabama and northwest Georgia . The terms "Allegheny Plateau" and the "Cumberland Plateau" both refer to the...

.

The Adirondack Mountains
Adirondack Mountains
The Adirondack Mountains are a mountain range located in the northeastern part of New York, that runs through Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Fulton, Hamilton, Herkimer, Lewis, Saint Lawrence, Saratoga, Warren, and Washington counties....

 in New York are sometimes considered part of the Appalachian chain but, geologically speaking, are a southern extension of the Laurentian Mountains
Laurentian mountains
The Laurentian Mountains are a mountain range in southern Quebec, Canada, north of the St. Lawrence River and Ottawa River, rising to a highest point of 1166 metres at Mont Raoul Blanchard, north east of Quebec City in the Reserve Faunique des Laurentides. The Gatineau, L'Assomption, Lièvre,...

 of Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

.

In addition to the true folded mountains, known as the ridge and valley province
Ridge-and-valley Appalachians
The Ridge-and-Valley Appalachians, also called the Ridge and Valley Province or the Valley and Ridge Appalachians, are a physiographic province of the larger Appalachian division and are also a belt within the Appalachian Mountains extending from southeastern New York through northwestern New...

, the area of dissected plateau
Dissected plateau
A dissected plateau is a plateau area that has been severely eroded so that the relief is sharp. Such an area may be referred to as mountainous, but dissected plateaus are distinguishable from orogenic mountain belts by the lack of folding, metamorphism, extensive faulting, or magmatic activity...

 to the north and west of the mountains is usually grouped with the Appalachians. This includes the Catskill Mountains
Catskill Mountains
The Catskill Mountains, an area in New York State northwest of New York City and southwest of Albany, are a mature dissected plateau, an uplifted region that was subsequently eroded into sharp relief. They are an eastward continuation, and the highest representation, of the Allegheny Plateau...

 of southeastern New York
New York
New York is a state in the Northeastern region of the United States. It is the nation's third most populous state. New York is bordered by New Jersey and Pennsylvania to the south, and by Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont to the east...

, the Poconos
The Poconos
The Pocono Mountains is a region located in northeastern Pennsylvania, United States. The Poconos, located chiefly in Monroe and Pike counties , are an upland of the larger Allegheny Plateau...

 in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is a U.S. state that is located in the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States. The state borders Delaware and Maryland to the south, West Virginia to the southwest, Ohio to the west, New York and Ontario, Canada, to the north, and New Jersey to...

, and the Allegheny Plateau
Allegheny Plateau
The Allegheny Plateau is a large dissected plateau area in western and central New York, northern and western Pennsylvania, northern and western West Virginia, and eastern Ohio...

 of southwestern New York, western Pennsylvania, eastern Ohio
Ohio
Ohio is a Midwestern state in the United States. The 34th largest state by area in the U.S.,it is the 7th‑most populous with over 11.5 million residents, containing several major American cities and seven metropolitan areas with populations of 500,000 or more.The state's capital is Columbus...

 and northern West Virginia
West Virginia
West Virginia is a state in the Appalachian and Southeastern regions of the United States, bordered by Virginia to the southeast, Kentucky to the southwest, Ohio to the northwest, Pennsylvania to the northeast and Maryland to the east...

. This same plateau is known as the Cumberland Plateau
Cumberland Plateau
The Cumberland Plateau is the southern part of the Appalachian Plateau. It includes much of eastern Kentucky and western West Virginia, part of Tennessee, and a small portion of northern Alabama and northwest Georgia . The terms "Allegheny Plateau" and the "Cumberland Plateau" both refer to the...

 in southern West Virginia
West Virginia
West Virginia is a state in the Appalachian and Southeastern regions of the United States, bordered by Virginia to the southeast, Kentucky to the southwest, Ohio to the northwest, Pennsylvania to the northeast and Maryland to the east...

, eastern Kentucky
Kentucky
The Commonwealth of Kentucky is a state located in the East Central United States of America. As classified by the United States Census Bureau, Kentucky is a Southern state, more specifically in the East South Central region. Kentucky is one of four U.S. states constituted as a commonwealth...

, western Virginia
Virginia
The Commonwealth of Virginia , is a U.S. state on the Atlantic Coast of the Southern United States. Virginia is nicknamed the "Old Dominion" and sometimes the "Mother of Presidents" after the eight U.S. presidents born there...

, eastern Tennessee
Tennessee
Tennessee is a U.S. state located in the Southeastern United States. It has a population of 6,346,105, making it the nation's 17th-largest state by population, and covers , making it the 36th-largest by total land area...

, and northern Alabama
Alabama
Alabama is a state located in the southeastern region of the United States. It is bordered by Tennessee to the north, Georgia to the east, Florida and the Gulf of Mexico to the south, and Mississippi to the west. Alabama ranks 30th in total land area and ranks second in the size of its inland...

.

The dissected plateau area, while not actually made up of geological mountain
Mountain
Image:Himalaya_annotated.jpg|thumb|right|The Himalayan mountain range with Mount Everestrect 58 14 160 49 Chomo Lonzorect 200 28 335 52 Makalurect 378 24 566 45 Mount Everestrect 188 581 920 656 Tibetan Plateaurect 250 406 340 427 Rong River...

s, is popularly called 'mountains', especially in eastern Kentucky and West Virginia, and while the ridges are not high, the terrain is extremely rugged. In Ohio and New York, some of the plateau has been glaciated, which has rounded off the sharp ridges, and filled the valleys to some extent. The glaciated regions are usually referred to as hill country rather than mountains.

The Appalachian region is generally considered the geographical dividing line between the eastern seaboard
East Coast of the United States
The East Coast of the United States, also known as the Eastern Seaboard, refers to the easternmost coastal states in the United States, which touch the Atlantic Ocean and stretch up to Canada. The term includes the U.S...

 of the United States and the Midwest region of the country. The Eastern Continental Divide
Eastern Continental Divide
The Eastern Continental Divide, in conjunction with other continental divides of North America, demarcates two watersheds of the Atlantic Ocean: the Gulf of Mexico watershed and the Atlantic Seaboard watershed. Prior to 1760, the divide represented the boundary between British and French colonial...

 follows the Appalachian Mountains from Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is a U.S. state that is located in the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States. The state borders Delaware and Maryland to the south, West Virginia to the southwest, Ohio to the west, New York and Ontario, Canada, to the north, and New Jersey to...

 to Georgia.

The Appalachian Trail
Appalachian Trail
The Appalachian National Scenic Trail, generally known as the Appalachian Trail or simply the AT, is a marked hiking trail in the eastern United States extending between Springer Mountain in Georgia and Mount Katahdin in Maine. It is approximately long...

 is a 2175 miles (3,500.3 km) hiking trail that runs all the way from Mount Katahdin
Mount Katahdin
Mount Katahdin is the highest mountain in Maine at . Named Katahdin by the Penobscot Indians, the term means "The Greatest Mountain". Katahdin is the centerpiece of Baxter State Park: a steep, tall mountain formed from underground magma. The flora and fauna on the mountain are typical of those...

 in Maine to Springer Mountain
Springer Mountain
Springer Mountain is located in the Chattahoochee National Forest in Fannin County of northern Georgia. It is now the southern terminus of the Appalachian Trail.-Geography:The mountain's peak is at above mean sea level.-Appalachian Trail:...

 in Georgia, passing over or past a large part of the Appalachian system. The International Appalachian Trail
International Appalachian Trail
The International Appalachian Trail is a hiking trail which runs from the northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail at Mount Katahdin, Maine, through New Brunswick, to the Gaspé Peninsula of Quebec, after which it takes bridge crossings to Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, a ferry ride to...

 is an extension of this hiking trail into the Canadian portion of the Appalachian range.

Chief summits

The Appalachian belt includes, with the ranges enumerated above, the plateaus sloping southward to the Atlantic Ocean
Atlantic Ocean
The Atlantic Ocean is the second-largest of the world's oceanic divisions. With a total area of about , it covers approximately 20% of the Earth's surface and about 26% of its water surface area...

 in New England
New England
New England is a region in the northeastern corner of the United States consisting of the six states of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut...

, and south-eastward to the border of the coastal plain
Coastal plain
A coastal plain is an area of flat, low-lying land adjacent to a seacoast and separated from the interior by other features. One of the world's longest coastal plains is located in eastern South America. The southwestern coastal plain of North America is notable for its species diversity...

 through the central and southern Atlantic states; and on the north-west, the Allegheny and Cumberland plateaus declining toward the Great Lakes and the interior plains. A remarkable feature of the belt is the longitudinal chain of broad valleys, including The Great Appalachian Valley
Great Appalachian Valley
The Great Valley, also called the Great Appalachian Valley or Great Valley Region, is one of the major landform features of eastern North America. It is a gigantic trough — a chain of valley lowlands — and the central feature of the Appalachian Mountain system...

, which in the southerly sections divides the mountain system into two unequal portions, but in the northernmost lies west of all the ranges possessing typical Appalachian features, and separates them from the Adirondack group. The mountain system has no axis of dominating altitudes, but in every portion the summits rise to rather uniform heights, and, especially in the central section, the various ridges and intermontane valleys have the same trend as the system itself. None of the summits reaches the region of perpetual snow.

Mountains of the Long Range
Long Range Mountains
The Long Range Mountains are a series of mountains along the west coast of the Canadian island of Newfoundland. They also form the northernmost section of the Appalachian chain on the eastern seaboard of North America...

 in Newfoundland reach heights of nearly 3000 feet (914.4 m). In the Chic-Choc
Chic-Choc Mountains
The Chic-Choc Mountains, often called Shick Shocks in English, is a group of mountains in the central Gaspé Peninsula in Quebec, Canada. It is a part of the Notre Dame Mountains, which is a continuation of the Appalachian Mountains....

 and Notre Dame
Notre Dame Mountains
The Notre Dame Mountains are a portion of the Appalachian Mountains, extending from the Gaspé Peninsula of Quebec to the Green Mountains of Vermont....

 mountain ranges in Quebec, the higher summits rise to about 4000 ft (1,219.2 m) elevation. Isolated peaks and small ranges in Nova Scotia
Nova Scotia
Nova Scotia is one of Canada's three Maritime provinces and is the most populous province in Atlantic Canada. The name of the province is Latin for "New Scotland," but "Nova Scotia" is the recognized, English-language name of the province. The provincial capital is Halifax. Nova Scotia is the...

 and New Brunswick
New Brunswick
New Brunswick is one of Canada's three Maritime provinces and is the only province in the federation that is constitutionally bilingual . The provincial capital is Fredericton and Saint John is the most populous city. Greater Moncton is the largest Census Metropolitan Area...

 vary from 1000 to 2700 ft (304.8 to 823 m). In Maine
Maine
Maine is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States, bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the east and south, New Hampshire to the west, and the Canadian provinces of Quebec to the northwest and New Brunswick to the northeast. Maine is both the northernmost and easternmost...

 several peaks exceed 4000 feet (1,219.2 m)., including Mount Katahdin
Mount Katahdin
Mount Katahdin is the highest mountain in Maine at . Named Katahdin by the Penobscot Indians, the term means "The Greatest Mountain". Katahdin is the centerpiece of Baxter State Park: a steep, tall mountain formed from underground magma. The flora and fauna on the mountain are typical of those...

 5267 feet (1,605.4 m). In New Hampshire
New Hampshire
New Hampshire is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America. The state was named after the southern English county of Hampshire. It is bordered by Massachusetts to the south, Vermont to the west, Maine and the Atlantic Ocean to the east, and the Canadian...

, many summits rise above 5000 feet (1,524 m), including Mount Washington
Mount Washington (New Hampshire)
Mount Washington is the highest peak in the Northeastern United States at , famous for dangerously erratic weather. For 76 years, a weather observatory on the summit held the record for the highest wind gust directly measured at the Earth's surface, , on the afternoon of April 12, 1934...

 in the White Mountains
White Mountains (New Hampshire)
The White Mountains are a mountain range covering about a quarter of the state of New Hampshire and a small portion of western Maine in the United States. Part of the Appalachian Mountains, they are considered the most rugged mountains in New England...

 6288 feet (1,916.6 m), Adams
Mount Adams (New Hampshire)
Mount Adams, elevation above sea level, is a mountain in New Hampshire, the second highest peak in the Northeast United States after its nearby neighbor, Mt. Washington. Located in the northern Presidential Range, Mount Adams was named after John Adams, the second president of the United States....

 5771 feet (1,759 m), Jefferson
Mount Jefferson (New Hampshire)
Mount Jefferson is located in Coos County, New Hampshire, and is the third highest mountain in the state. The mountain is named after Thomas Jefferson, the third president of the United States, and is part of the Presidential Range of the White Mountains...

 5712 feet (1,741 m), Monroe 5380 feet (1,639.8 m)), Madison
Mount Madison
Mount Madison is a mountain in the Presidential Range of New Hampshire in the United States. It is named after the fourth U.S. President, James Madison....

 5367 feet (1,635.9 m), Lafayette 5249 feet (1,599.9 m), and Lincoln
Mount Lincoln
Mount Lincoln may refer to one of several mountains in the United States:...

 5089 feet (1,551.1 m). In the Green Mountains
Green Mountains
The Green Mountains are a mountain range in the U.S. state of Vermont. The range extends approximately .-Peaks:The most notable mountains in the range include:*Mount Mansfield, , the highest point in Vermont*Killington Peak, *Mount Ellen,...

 the highest point, Mt. Mansfield
Mount Mansfield
Mount Mansfield is the highest mountain in Vermont with a summit that peaks at above sea level. The summit is in Underhill; the ridgeline, including some secondary peaks, extends into the town of Stowe, and the mountain's flanks also reach into the town of Cambridge.When viewed from the east or...

, is 4393 feet (1,339 m) in elevation; others include Killington Peak
Killington Peak
Killington Peak is the second highest summit in the Green Mountains and in the U.S. state of Vermont. It is located east of Rutland in south-central Vermont. A ski resort, Killington Ski Resort, nicknamed "the beast of the east," is located on the mountain. Killington is a stop on the Long...

 at 4226 ft (1,288.1 m)., Camel's Hump at 4083 ft (1,244.5 m)., Mt. Abraham
Mount Abraham (Vermont)
Mount Abraham is the fifth tallest peak in the U.S. state of Vermont. The summit supports a small amount of alpine vegetation and offers a view of the Champlain Valley and Adirondack Mountains to the west. Mount Abraham is on the Long Trail, a hiking trail running the length of Vermont...

 at 4006 ft (1,221 m)., and a number of other heights exceeding 3000 feet (914.4 m).

In Pennsylvania, there are over sixty summits that rise over 2500 feet (762 m); the summits of Mount Davis
Mount Davis (Pennsylvania)
Mount Davis is the highest point in Pennsylvania. Located in the 5,685 acre Forbes State Forest in Elk Lick Township, Somerset County, it rises to 3,213 ft...

 and Blue Knob rise over 3000 feet (914.4 m). In Maryland, Eagle Rock and Dans Mountain
Dans Mountain
Dans Mountain is located in Allegany County, Maryland, USA between Georges Creek and the North Branch Potomac River. The highest point on Dans Mountain is called Dan's Rock which has an elevation of . The mountain rises above the town of LaVale and the summit is the highest point in Allegany County...

 are conspicuous points reaching 3162 ft (963.8 m) and 2882 ft (878.4 m) respectively. On the same side of the Great Valley, south of the Potomac, are the Pinnacle 3007 feet (916.5 m) and Pidgeon Roost 3400 feet (1,036.3 m). In West Virginia
West Virginia
West Virginia is a state in the Appalachian and Southeastern regions of the United States, bordered by Virginia to the southeast, Kentucky to the southwest, Ohio to the northwest, Pennsylvania to the northeast and Maryland to the east...

, more than 150 peaks rise above 4000 feet (1,219.2 m)., including Spruce Knob
Spruce Knob
Spruce Knob, at , is the highest point in the state of West Virginia and the summit of Spruce Mountain, the tallest mountain in the Alleghenies.-Overview:...

 4863 feet (1,482.2 m), the highest point in the Allegheny Mountains
Allegheny Mountains
The Allegheny Mountain Range , also spelled Alleghany, Allegany and, informally, the Alleghenies, is part of the vast Appalachian Mountain Range of the eastern United States and Canada...

. A number of other points in the state rise above 4800 feet (1,463 m). Snowshoe Mountain
Snowshoe Mountain
Snowshoe Mountain is a ski resort in Snowshoe, West Virginia. The resort has skiable terrain across and covers a total area of in the Allegheny Mountains, which are a part of the vast Appalachian Mountain Range. It is positioned in the bowl shaped convergence of two mountains, Cheat and Back...

 at Thorny Flat 4848 feet (1,477.7 m) and Bald Knob
Bald Knob
Bald Knob is the highest summit of Back Allegheny Mountain in Pocahontas County, West Virginia and is part of Cass Scenic Railroad State Park...

 4842 feet (1,475.8 m) are among the more notable peaks in West Virginia.

The Blue Ridge Mountains
Blue Ridge Mountains
The Blue Ridge Mountains are 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...

, rising in southern Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is a U.S. state that is located in the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States. The state borders Delaware and Maryland to the south, West Virginia to the southwest, Ohio to the west, New York and Ontario, Canada, to the north, and New Jersey to...

 and there known as South Mountain
South Mountain (Maryland and Pennsylvania)
South Mountain is the northern extension of the Blue Ridge Mountain range in Maryland and Pennsylvania. From the Potomac River near Knoxville, Maryland in the south, to Dillsburg, Pennsylvania in the north, the long range separates the Hagerstown and Cumberland valleys from the Piedmont regions of...

, attain elevations of about 2000 feet (609.6 m) in that state. South Mountain achieves its highest point just below the Mason-Dixon line in Maryland at Quirauk Mountain
Quirauk Mountain
Quirauk Mountain is the highest point on South Mountain. The peak is located in northeastern Washington County, Maryland. It lies just southwest of Fort Ritchie Military Reservation in the village of Cascade and about 1/2 mile southeast of the community of Blue Mountain...

 2145 feet (653.8 m) and then diminishes in height southward to the Potomac River
Potomac River
The Potomac River flows into the Chesapeake Bay, located along the mid-Atlantic coast of the United States. The river is approximately long, with a drainage area of about 14,700 square miles...

. Once in Virginia the Blue Ridge again reaches 2000 feet (609.6 m) and higher. In the Virginia
Virginia
The Commonwealth of Virginia , is a U.S. state on the Atlantic Coast of the Southern United States. Virginia is nicknamed the "Old Dominion" and sometimes the "Mother of Presidents" after the eight U.S. presidents born there...

 Blue Ridge, the following are some of the highest peaks north of the Roanoke River
Roanoke River
The Roanoke River is a river in southern Virginia and northeastern North Carolina in the United States, 410 mi long. A major river of the southeastern United States, it drains a largely rural area of the coastal plain from the eastern edge of the Appalachian Mountains southeast across the Piedmont...

: Stony Man 4031 feet (1,228.6 m), Hawksbill Mountain
Hawksbill Mountain
Hawksbill Mountain is a mountain with an elevation of . Marking the border between Madison County and Page County in Virginia, the summit of Hawksbill Mountain is the highest point in Shenandoah National Park, as well as the highest point in both Madison and Page counties.The north face of...

 4066 feet (1,239.3 m), Apple Orchard Mountain
Apple Orchard Mountain
Apple Orchard Mountain is a peak of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia.Located in Jefferson National Forest, Apple Orchard Mountain is the county highpoint for both Bedford County and Botetourt County, Virginia as well as the highest point on the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia. It is also the...

 4225 feet (1,287.8 m) and Peaks of Otter
Peaks of Otter
The Peaks of Otter are three mountain peaks in the Blue Ridge Mountains, overlooking the town of Bedford, Virginia, nine miles to the southeast along State Route 43. These peaks are...

 4001 and 3875 ft (1,219.5 and 1,181.1 ). South of the Roanoke River, along the Blue Ridge, are Virginia's highest peaks including Whitetop Mountain
Whitetop Mountain
Whitetop Mountain is the second highest mountain in the U.S. state of Virginia, after nearby Mount Rogers. It is located at the juncture of Grayson, Smyth, and Washington Counties in the state of Virginia. Whitetop was the location of the White Top Folk Festival from 1932 to 1939, with the...

 5520 feet (1,682.5 m) and Mount Rogers
Mount Rogers
Mount Rogers is the highest natural point in the state of Virginia, USA, with a summit elevation of above mean sea level. It lies in Grayson County and Smyth County, Virginia, about WSW of Troutdale, Virginia, within the Mount Rogers National Recreation Area and Jefferson National Forest.The...

 5729 feet (1,746.2 m), the highest point in the Commonwealth.

Chief summits in the southern section of the Blue Ridge are located along two main crests— the Western or Unaka Front along the Tennessee-North Carolina border and the Eastern Front in North Carolina— or one of several "cross ridges" between the two main crests. Major subranges of the Eastern Front include the Black Mountains
Black Mountains (North Carolina)
The Black Mountains are a mountain range in western North Carolina, in the southeastern United States. They are part of the Blue Ridge Province of the Southern Appalachian Mountains. The Blacks are the highest mountains in the Eastern United States...

, Great Craggy Mountains
Great Craggy Mountains
The Great Craggy Mountains, commonly called the Craggies, are a mountain range in western North Carolina, United States. They are a subrange of the Blue Ridge Mountains and encompass an area of approx. 194 sq mi . They are situated in Buncombe County, North Carolina, 14 miles northeast of Asheville...

, and Great Balsam Mountains
Great Balsam Mountains
The Great Balsam Mountains, or Balsam Mountains, are in the mountain region of western North Carolina, United States. The Great Balsams are a subrange of the Blue Ridge Mountains, which in turn are a part of the Appalachian Mountains...

, and its chief summits include Grandfather Mountain
Grandfather Mountain
Grandfather Mountain is a mountain, a non-profit attraction, and a North Carolina state parknear Linville, North Carolina. At 5,946 feet , it is the highest peak on the eastern escarpment of the Blue Ridge Mountains, one of the major chains of the Appalachian Mountains. The Blue Ridge Parkway...

 5964 feet (1,817.8 m) near the Tennessee-North Carolina border, Mount Mitchell
Mount Mitchell
Mount Mitchell can refer to:* Mount Mitchell, the highest point in the eastern United States* Mount Mitchell , in Jasper National Park of Canada* Mount Mitchell * Mount Mitchell , in Queensland...

 6684 feet (2,037.3 m) in the Blacks, and Black Balsam Knob
Black Balsam Knob
Black Balsam Knob, also known as Black Balsam Bald, is in the Pisgah National Forest southwest of Asheville, NC near milepost 420 on the Blue Ridge Parkway....

 6214 feet (1,894 m) and Cold Mountain 6030 feet (1,837.9 m) in the Great Balsams. The Western Blue Ridge Front is subdivided into the Unaka Range
Unaka Range
The Unaka Range is a mountain range on the border of Tennessee and North Carolina, in the southeastern United States. It is a subrange of the Appalachian Mountains and is part of the Blue Ridge Mountains physiographic province. The Unakas stretch approximately from the Nolichucky River to the...

, the Bald Mountains
Bald Mountains
The Bald Mountains are a mountain range rising along the border between Tennessee and North Carolina in the southeastern United States. They are part of the Blue Ridge Mountain Province of the Southern Appalachian Mountains...

, the Great Smoky Mountains
Great Smoky Mountains
The Great Smoky Mountains are a mountain range rising along the Tennessee–North Carolina border in the southeastern United States. They are a subrange of the Appalachian Mountains, and form part of the Blue Ridge Physiographic Province. The range is sometimes called the Smoky Mountains or the...

, and the Unicoi Mountains, and its major peaks include Roan Mountain
Roan Mountain (Roan Highlands)
Roan Mountain is the highpoint of the Roan-Unaka Range of the Southern Appalachian Mountains, located in the Southeastern United States. The mountain is clad in a dense stand of Southern Appalachian spruce-fir forest, and includes the world's largest natural rhododendron garden, and the longest...

 6285 feet (1,915.7 m) in the Unakas, Big Bald 5516 feet (1,681.3 m) and Max Patch
Max Patch
Max Patch is a bald mountain on the North Carolina-Tennessee Border in Madison County, North Carolina and Cocke County, Tennessee. It is a major landmark along the Tennessee/North Carolina section of the Appalachian Trail, although its summit is located in North Carolina...

 4616 feet (1,407 m) in the Bald Mountains, Clingmans Dome
Clingmans Dome
Clingmans Dome is a mountain in the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee and North Carolina, in the southeastern United States. At an elevation of , it is the highest mountain in the Smokies, the highest point in the state of Tennessee, and the highest point along the Appalachian Trail...

 6643 feet (2,024.8 m), Mount Le Conte 6593 feet (2,009.5 m), and Mount Guyot
Mount Guyot (Great Smoky Mountains)
Mount Guyot is a mountain in the eastern Great Smoky Mountains, located inthe southeastern United States. At above sea level, Guyot is the fourth-highestsummit in the eastern U.S., and the second-highest in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park...

 6621 feet (2,018.1 m) in the Great Smokies, and Big Frog Mountain
Big Frog Mountain
Big Frog Mountain is a mountain located in southeastern Tennessee in the Big Frog Wilderness, within the Cherokee National Forest. At tall, there is no higher point west of Big Frog Mountain until the Big Bend in Texas or the Black Hills of South Dakota...

 4224 feet (1,287.5 m) near the Tennessee-Georgia-North Carolina border. Prominent summits in the cross ridges include Waterrock Knob
Waterrock Knob
Waterrock Knob is a mountain peak in the U.S. state of North Carolina. It is the highest peak in the Plott Balsams and is the 16th highest mountain in the Eastern United States. It is the 15th highest of the 40 mountains in North Carolina over 6000 feet....

 (6292 feet (1,917.8 m)) in the Plott Balsams
Plott Balsams
The Plott Balsams are a mountain range in western North Carolina, in the southeastern United States. They are part of the Blue Ridge Mountain Province of the Southern Appalachian Mountains. The Plott Balsams stretch from the city of Sylva in the Tuckasegee River valley to the southwest to Maggie...

. Across northern Georgia, numerous peaks exceed 4000 feet (1,219.2 m), including Brasstown Bald
Brasstown Bald
Brasstown Bald is the highest natural point in the state of Georgia, USA, with a summit elevation of 4,784 feet above mean sea level....

, the state's highest, at 4784 feet (1,458.2 m) and 4696 feet (1,431.3 m) Rabun Bald
Rabun Bald
Rabun Bald, with an elevation of is the second-highest peak in Georgia; only Brasstown Bald is higher. It is located in Rabun County, Georgia and is the tallest mountain in the county. An observation tower on the summit provides hikers with views that, on clear days, extend for more than...

.

Drainage

The Appalachian Mountains are such an ancient mountain range that it has at least one river that flows across it: something that is impossible with newer and higher mountain ranges such as the Rocky Mountains
Rocky Mountains
The Rocky Mountains are a major mountain range in western North America. The Rocky Mountains stretch more than from the northernmost part of British Columbia, in western Canada, to New Mexico, in the southwestern United States...

 or the Andes
Andes
The Andes is the world's longest continental mountain range. It is a continual range of highlands along the western coast of South America. This range is about long, about to wide , and of an average height of about .Along its length, the Andes is split into several ranges, which are separated...

. The New River rises in the middle of the Appalachians in northwestern North Carolina
North Carolina
North Carolina is a state located in the southeastern United States. The state borders South Carolina and Georgia to the south, Tennessee to the west and Virginia to the north. North Carolina contains 100 counties. Its capital is Raleigh, and its largest city is Charlotte...

. This river must have been even older than the mountain range, and as the Appalachians and the Blue Ridge Mountains
Blue Ridge Mountains
The Blue Ridge Mountains are 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...

 rose, the New River kept pace with the growth of the mountains, cutting its gorge ever deeper, and continuing to flow north. After flowing into West Virginia, the New River continues in the New River Gorge until it flows into the Kanawha River
Kanawha River
The Kanawha River is a tributary of the Ohio River, approximately 97 mi long, in the U.S. state of West Virginia. The largest inland waterway in West Virginia, it has formed a significant industrial region of the state since the middle of the 19th century.It is formed at the town of Gauley...

, which is a mere change-of-name for the river. This river flows into the Ohio River
Ohio River
The Ohio River is the largest tributary, by volume, of the Mississippi River. At the confluence, the Ohio is even bigger than the Mississippi and, thus, is hydrologically the main stream of the whole river system, including the Allegheny River further upstream...

, which then flows west.

There are many other geological issues concerning the rivers and streams of the Appalachians. In spite of the existence of the Great Appalachian Valley, many of the main rivers are transverse to the axis of this mountain system. The drainage divide of the Appalachians follows a tortuous course which crosses the mountainous belt just north of the New River in Virginia. South of the New River the rivers head into the Blue Ridge, cross the higher Unakas, receive important tributaries from the Great Valley, and traversing the Cumberland Plateau in spreading gorges, escape by way of the Cumberland River
Cumberland River
The Cumberland River is a waterway in the Southern United States. It is long. It starts in Harlan County in far southeastern Kentucky between Pine and Cumberland mountains, flows through southern Kentucky, crosses into northern Tennessee, and then curves back up into western Kentucky before...

 and the Tennessee River
Tennessee River
The Tennessee River is the largest tributary of the Ohio River. It is approximately 652 miles long and is located in the southeastern United States in the Tennessee Valley. The river was once popularly known as the Cherokee River, among other names...

 rivers to the Ohio River
Ohio River
The Ohio River is the largest tributary, by volume, of the Mississippi River. At the confluence, the Ohio is even bigger than the Mississippi and, thus, is hydrologically the main stream of the whole river system, including the Allegheny River further upstream...

 and the Mississippi River
Mississippi River
The Mississippi River is the largest river system in North America. Flowing entirely in the United States, this river rises in western Minnesota and meanders slowly southwards for to the Mississippi River Delta at the Gulf of Mexico. With its many tributaries, the Mississippi's watershed drains...

, and thence to the Gulf of Mexico
Gulf of Mexico
The Gulf of Mexico is a partially landlocked ocean basin largely surrounded by the North American continent and the island of Cuba. It is bounded on the northeast, north and northwest by the Gulf Coast of the United States, on the southwest and south by Mexico, and on the southeast by Cuba. In...

. In the central section, north of the New River, the rivers, rising in or just beyond the Valley Ridges, flow through great gorges (water gap
Water gap
A water gap is an opening or notch which flowing water has carved through a mountain range. Water gaps often offer a practical route for road and rail transport to cross mountain ridges.- Geology :...

s) to the Great Valley, and then across the Blue Ridge to tidal estuaries penetrating the coastal plain via the Roanoke River, James River
James River (Virginia)
The James River is a river in the U.S. state of Virginia. It is long, extending to if one includes the Jackson River, the longer of its two source tributaries. The James River drains a catchment comprising . The watershed includes about 4% open water and an area with a population of 2.5 million...

, Potomac River
Potomac River
The Potomac River flows into the Chesapeake Bay, located along the mid-Atlantic coast of the United States. The river is approximately long, with a drainage area of about 14,700 square miles...

, and Susquehanna River
Susquehanna River
The Susquehanna River is a river located in the northeastern United States. At long, it is the longest river on the American east coast that drains into the Atlantic Ocean, and with its watershed it is the 16th largest river in the United States, and the longest river in the continental United...

.

In the northern section the height of land lies on the inland side of the mountainous belt, and thus the main lines of drainage runs from north to south, exemplified by the Hudson River
Hudson River
The Hudson is a river that flows from north to south through eastern New York. The highest official source is at Lake Tear of the Clouds, on the slopes of Mount Marcy in the Adirondack Mountains. The river itself officially begins in Henderson Lake in Newcomb, New York...

. However, the valley through which the Hudson River flows was cut by the gigantic glacier
Glacier
A glacier is a large persistent body of ice that forms where the accumulation of snow exceeds its ablation over many years, often centuries. At least 0.1 km² in area and 50 m thick, but often much larger, a glacier slowly deforms and flows due to stresses induced by its weight...

s of the Ice Age
Ice age
An ice age or, more precisely, glacial age, is a generic geological period of long-term reduction in the temperature of the Earth's surface and atmosphere, resulting in the presence or expansion of continental ice sheets, polar ice sheets and alpine glaciers...

s - the same glaciers that deposited their terminal moraine
Terminal moraine
A terminal moraine, also called end moraine, is a moraine that forms at the end of the glacier called the snout.Terminal moraines mark the maximum advance of the glacier. An end moraine is at the present boundary of the glacier....

s in southern New York State and formed the east-west Long Island
Long Island
Long Island is an island located in the southeast part of the U.S. state of New York, just east of Manhattan. Stretching northeast into the Atlantic Ocean, Long Island contains four counties, two of which are boroughs of New York City , and two of which are mainly suburban...

.

Geology

A look at rocks exposed in today's Appalachian mountains reveals elongated belts of folded and thrust faulted marine sedimentary rock
Sedimentary rock
Sedimentary rock are types of rock that are formed by the deposition of material at the Earth's surface and within bodies of water. Sedimentation is the collective name for processes that cause mineral and/or organic particles to settle and accumulate or minerals to precipitate from a solution....

s, volcanic rock
Volcanic rock
Volcanic rock is a rock formed from magma erupted from a volcano. In other words, it is an igneous rock of volcanic origin...

s and slivers of ancient ocean floor, which provides strong evidence that these rocks were deformed during plate collision. The birth of the Appalachian ranges, some 480 million years ago, marks the first of several mountain building plate collisions that culminated in the construction of the supercontinent Pangaea
Pangaea
Pangaea, Pangæa, or Pangea is hypothesized as a supercontinent that existed during the Paleozoic and Mesozoic eras about 250 million years ago, before the component continents were separated into their current configuration....

 with the Appalachians near the center. Because North America and Africa were connected, the Appalachians formed part of the same mountain chain as the Little Atlas in Morocco
Morocco
Morocco , officially the Kingdom of Morocco , is a country located in North Africa. It has a population of more than 32 million and an area of 710,850 km², and also primarily administers the disputed region of the Western Sahara...

. This mountain range, known as the Central Pangean Mountains
Central Pangean Mountains
The Central Pangean Mountains were an extensive northeast-southwest trending mountain range in the central portion of the supercontinent Pangaea during the Triassic period. They were formed as a result of collision between the minor supercontinents Laurussia and Gondwana during the formation of...

, extended into Scotland
Scotland
Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the...

, from the North America/Europe collision - see Caledonian orogeny
Caledonian orogeny
The Caledonian orogeny is a mountain building era recorded in the northern parts of the British Isles, the Scandinavian Mountains, Svalbard, eastern Greenland and parts of north-central Europe. The Caledonian orogeny encompasses events that occurred from the Ordovician to Early Devonian, roughly...

.

During the middle Ordovician Period (about 496-440 million years ago), a change in plate motions set the stage for the first Paleozoic mountain building event (Taconic orogeny
Taconic orogeny
The Taconic orogeny was a mountain building period that ended 440 million years ago and affected most of modern-day New England. A great mountain chain formed from eastern Canada down through what is now the Piedmont of the East coast of the United States...

) in North America
North America
North America is a continent wholly within the Northern Hemisphere and almost wholly within the Western Hemisphere. It is also considered a northern subcontinent of the Americas...

. The once-quiet Appalachian passive margin changed to a very active plate boundary when a neighboring oceanic plate, the Iapetus
Iapetus Ocean
The Iapetus Ocean was an ocean that existed in the Neoproterozoic and Paleozoic eras of the geologic timescale . The Iapetus Ocean was situated in the southern hemisphere, between the paleocontinents of Laurentia, Baltica and Avalonia...

, collided with and began sinking beneath the North American craton. With the birth of this new subduction
Subduction
In geology, subduction is the process that takes place at convergent boundaries by which one tectonic plate moves under another tectonic plate, sinking into the Earth's mantle, as the plates converge. These 3D regions of mantle downwellings are known as "Subduction Zones"...

 zone, the early Appalachians were born. Along the continental margin, volcanoes grew, coincident with the initiation of subduction. Thrust faulting uplifted and warped older sedimentary rock laid down on the passive margin. As mountains rose, erosion began to wear them down. Streams carried rock debris down slope to be deposited in nearby lowlands. The Taconic Orogeny was just the first of a series of mountain building plate collisions that contributed to the formation of the Appalachians, culminating in the collision of North America and Africa (see Appalachian orogeny).

By the end of the Mesozoic
Mesozoic
The Mesozoic era is an interval of geological time from about 250 million years ago to about 65 million years ago. It is often referred to as the age of reptiles because reptiles, namely dinosaurs, were the dominant terrestrial and marine vertebrates of the time...

 era, the Appalachian Mountains had been eroded to an almost flat plain. It was not until the region was uplifted during the Cenozoic Era that the distinctive topography of the present formed. Uplift rejuvenated
Rejuvenation (river)
A river is said to be rejuvenated when the base level that it is flowing down to is lowered. This can happen for various reasons.-Signs:Rejuvenated terrains usually have complex landscapes because remnants of older landforms are locally preserved. Parts of floodplains may be preserved as terraces...

 the streams, which rapidly responded by cutting downward into the ancient bedrock. Some streams flowed along weak layers that define the folds and faults created many millions of years earlier. Other streams downcut
Downcutting
Downcutting, also called erosional downcutting or downward erosion or vertical erosion is a geological process that deepens the channel of a stream or valley by removing material from the stream's bed or the valley's floor. How fast downcutting occurs depends on the stream's base level, which is...

 so rapidly that they cut right across the resistant folded rocks of the mountain core, carving canyons across rock layers and geologic structures.

Mineral resources

The Appalachian Mountains contain major deposits of anthracite coal
Coal
Coal is a combustible black or brownish-black sedimentary rock usually occurring in rock strata in layers or veins called coal beds or coal seams. The harder forms, such as anthracite coal, can be regarded as metamorphic rock because of later exposure to elevated temperature and pressure...

 as well as bituminous coal
Bituminous coal
Bituminous coal or black coal is a relatively soft coal containing a tarlike substance called bitumen. It is of higher quality than lignite coal but of poorer quality than Anthracite...

. In the folded mountains the coal is in metamorphosed form as anthracite, represented by the Coal Region
Coal Region
The Coal Region is a term used to refer to an area of Northeastern Pennsylvania in the central Appalachian Mountains comprising Lackawanna, Luzerne, Columbia, Carbon, Schuylkill, Northumberland, and the extreme northeast corner of Dauphin counties....

 of northeastern Pennsylvania
Northeastern Pennsylvania
Northeastern Pennsylvania is a geographic region of Pennsylvania that includes the Pocono Mountains, the Endless Mountains and the industrial cities of Scranton, Wilkes-Barre, Pittston, Hazleton and Carbondale....

. The bituminous coal fields of western Pennsylvania
Western Pennsylvania
Western Pennsylvania consists of the western third of the state of Pennsylvania in the United States. Pittsburgh is the largest city in the region, with a metropolitan area population of about 2.4 million people, and serves as its economic and cultural center. Erie, Altoona, and Johnstown are its...

, western Maryland
Western Maryland
Western Maryland is the portion of the U.S. state of Maryland that consists of Frederick, Washington, Allegany, and Garrett counties. The region is bounded by the Mason-Dixon line to the north, Preston County, West Virginia to the west, and the Potomac River to the south. There is dispute over the...

, southeastern Ohio, eastern Kentucky, southwestern Virginia
Southwest Virginia
Southwest Virginia, often abbreviated as SWVA, is a mountainous region of Virginia in the westernmost part of the commonwealth. Southwest Virginia has been defined alternatively as all Virginia counties on the Appalachian Plateau, all Virginia counties west of the Eastern Continental Divide, or...

, and West Virginia contain the sedimentary form of coal. The mountain top removal method of coal mining
Coal mining
The goal of coal mining is to obtain coal from the ground. Coal is valued for its energy content, and since the 1880s has been widely used to generate electricity. Steel and cement industries use coal as a fuel for extraction of iron from iron ore and for cement production. In the United States,...

, in which entire mountain tops are removed, is currently threatening vast areas and ecosystems of the Appalachian Mountain region.

The discovery in 1859 of commercial quantities of petroleum
Petroleum
Petroleum or crude oil is a naturally occurring, flammable liquid consisting of a complex mixture of hydrocarbons of various molecular weights and other liquid organic compounds, that are found in geologic formations beneath the Earth's surface. Petroleum is recovered mostly through oil drilling...

 in the Appalachian mountains of western Pennsylvania started the modern United States petroleum industry
Petroleum industry
The petroleum industry includes the global processes of exploration, extraction, refining, transporting , and marketing petroleum products. The largest volume products of the industry are fuel oil and gasoline...

. Recent discoveries of commercial natural gas
Natural gas
Natural gas is a naturally occurring gas mixture consisting primarily of methane, typically with 0–20% higher hydrocarbons . It is found associated with other hydrocarbon fuel, in coal beds, as methane clathrates, and is an important fuel source and a major feedstock for fertilizers.Most natural...

 deposits in the Marcellus Shale formation have once again focused oil industry attention on the Appalachian Basin.

Some plateaus of the Appalachian Mountains contain metallic minerals such as iron
Iron
Iron is a chemical element with the symbol Fe and atomic number 26. It is a metal in the first transition series. It is the most common element forming the planet Earth as a whole, forming much of Earth's outer and inner core. It is the fourth most common element in the Earth's crust...

 and zinc
Zinc
Zinc , or spelter , is a metallic chemical element; it has the symbol Zn and atomic number 30. It is the first element in group 12 of the periodic table. Zinc is, in some respects, chemically similar to magnesium, because its ion is of similar size and its only common oxidation state is +2...

.

Flora

The floras of the Appalachians are diverse and vary primarily in response to geology, latitude, elevation and moisture availability. Geobotanically, they constitute a floristic province
Floristic province
A phytochorion, in phytogeography, is a geographic area with a relatively uniform composition of plant species. Adjacent phytochoria do not usually have a sharp boundary, but rather a soft one, a transitional area in which many species from both regions overlap...

 of the North American Atlantic Region
North American Atlantic Region
North American Atlantic Region is a floristic region within the Holarctic Kingdom identified by Armen Takhtajan and Robert F. Thorne, spanning from the Atlantic and Gulf coasts to the Great Plains and comprising a major part of the United States and southeastern portions of Canada...

. The Appalachians consist primarily of deciduous broad-leaf trees and evergreen needle-leaf conifers, but also contain the evergreen broad-leaf American Holly
American Holly
Ilex opaca, the American Holly, is a species of holly, native to the eastern United States, from coastal Massachusetts south to central Florida, and west to southeastern Missouri and eastern Texas.-Description:...

 (), and the deciduous needle-leaf conifer, the Tamarack
Tamarack Larch
Tamarack Larch, or Tamarack, or Hackmatack, or American Larch is a species of larch native to Canada, from eastern Yukon and Inuvik, Northwest Territories east to Newfoundland, and also south into the northeastern United States from Minnesota to Cranesville Swamp, West Virginia; there is also a...

, or Eastern Larch ().

The dominant northern and high elevation conifer is the Red Spruce
Red Spruce
Picea rubens is a species of spruce native to eastern North America, ranging from eastern Quebec to Nova Scotia, and from New England south in the Adirondack Mountains and Appalachians to western North Carolina.-Physical description:...

 (), which grows from near sea level to above 4000 feet (1,219.2 m) above sea level
Above mean sea level
The term above mean sea level refers to the elevation or altitude of any object, relative to the average sea level datum. AMSL is used extensively in radio by engineers to determine the coverage area a station will be able to reach...

 (asl) in northern New England
New England
New England is a region in the northeastern corner of the United States consisting of the six states of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut...

 and southeastern Canada. It also grows southward along the Appalachian crest to the highest elevations of the southern Appalachians, as in North Carolina
North Carolina
North Carolina is a state located in the southeastern United States. The state borders South Carolina and Georgia to the south, Tennessee to the west and Virginia to the north. North Carolina contains 100 counties. Its capital is Raleigh, and its largest city is Charlotte...

 and Tennessee
Tennessee
Tennessee is a U.S. state located in the Southeastern United States. It has a population of 6,346,105, making it the nation's 17th-largest state by population, and covers , making it the 36th-largest by total land area...

. In the central Appalachians it is usually confined above 3000 feet (914.4 m) asl, except for a few cold valleys in which it reaches lower elevations. In the southern Appalachians it is restricted to higher elevations. Another species is the Black Spruce
Black Spruce
Picea mariana is a species of spruce native to northern North America, from Newfoundland west to Alaska, and south to northern New York, Minnesota and central British Columbia...

 (), which extends farthest north of any conifer in North America, is found at high elevations in the northern Appalachians, and in bogs as far south as Pennsylvania.

The Appalachians are also home to two species of fir, the boreal Balsam Fir
Balsam Fir
The balsam fir is a North American fir, native to most of eastern and central Canada and the northeastern United States .-Growth:It is a small to medium-size evergreen tree typically tall, rarely to tall, with a narrow conic crown...

 (), and the southern high elevation endemic, Fraser Fir
Fraser Fir
Abies fraseri is a species of fir native to the mountains of the eastern United States. It is closely related to Abies balsamea , of which it has occasionally been treated as a subspecies or a variety Abies fraseri (Fraser fir) is a species of fir native to the mountains of the eastern United...

 (). Fraser Fir is confined to the highest parts of the southern Appalachian Mountains, where along with Red Spruce it forms a fragile ecosystem known as the Southern Appalachian spruce-fir forest
Southern Appalachian spruce-fir forest
The Southern Appalachian spruce-fir forest is a type of montane coniferous forest that grows in the highest elevations in the southern Appalachian Mountains of the eastern United States...

. Fraser Fir rarely occurs below 5500 feet (1,676.4 m), and becomes the dominant tree type at 6200 feet (1,889.8 m). By contrast, Balsam Fir is found from near sea level to the tree line in the northern Appalachians, but ranges only as far south as Virginia and West Virginia in the central Appalachians, where it is usually confined above 3900 feet (1,188.7 m) asl, except in cold valleys. Curiously, it is associated with oaks in Virginia. The Balsam Fir of Virginia and West Virginia is thought by some to be a natural hybrid between the more northern variety and Fraser Fir. While Red Spruce is common in both upland and bog habitats, Balsam Fir, as well as Black Spruce and Tamarack, are more characteristic of the latter. However Balsam Fir also does well in soils with a pH as high as 6.

Eastern or Canada Hemlock
Eastern Hemlock
Tsuga canadensis, also known as eastern or Canadian hemlock, and in the French-speaking regions of Canada as pruche du Canada, is a coniferous tree native to eastern North America. It ranges from northeastern Minnesota eastward through southern Quebec to Nova Scotia, and south in the Appalachian...

 () is another important evergreen needle-leaf conifer that grows along the Appalachian chain from north to south, but is confined to lower elevations than Red Spruce and the firs. It generally occupies richer and less acidic soils than the spruce and firs and is characteristic of deep, shaded and moist mountain valleys and cove
Cove (Appalachian Mountains)
In the central and southern Appalachian Mountains of Eastern North America, a cove is a small valley between two ridge lines that is closed at one or both ends....

s. It is, unfortunately, subject to the Hemlock Woolly Adelgid
Hemlock Woolly Adelgid
Hemlock woolly adelgid , commonly abbreviated as HWA, is a true bug native to East Asia that feeds by sucking sap from hemlock trees . In eastern North America, it is a destructive pest that poses a major threat to the eastern hemlock and the Carolina hemlock...

 (), an introduced insect, that is rapidly extirpating it as a forest tree. Less abundant, and restricted to the southern Appalachians, is Carolina Hemlock
Carolina Hemlock
Tsuga caroliniana is a species of Tsuga, native to the Appalachian Mountains in southwest Virginia, western North Carolina, extreme northeast Georgia, northwest South Carolina, and eastern Tennessee. Its habitat is on rocky mountain slopes at elevations of 700-1200 m...

 (). Like Canada Hemlock, this tree suffers severely from the Hemlock Woolly Adelgid.

Several species of pines characteristic of the Appalachians are Eastern White Pine
Eastern White Pine
Pinus strobus, commonly known as the eastern white pine, is a large pine native to eastern North America, occurring from Newfoundland west to Minnesota and southeastern Manitoba, and south along the Appalachian Mountains to the northern edge of Georgia.It is occasionally known as simply white pine,...

 (), Virginia Pine
Virginia Pine
Pinus virginiana is a medium-sized tree, often found on poorer soils from Long Island in southern New York south through the Appalachian Mountains to western Tennessee and Alabama. The usual size range for this pine is 9–18 m, but can grow taller under optimum conditions. The trunk can be...

 (), Pitch Pine
Pitch Pine
The Pitch Pine, Pinus rigida, is a small-to-medium sized pine, native to eastern North America. This species occasionally hybridizes with other pine species such as Loblolly Pine , Shortleaf Pine , and Pond Pine The Pitch Pine, Pinus rigida, is a small-to-medium sized (6-30 meters or 20-100 feet)...

 (), Table Mountain Pine
Table Mountain Pine
Pinus pungens, the Table Mountain Pine, is a small pine native to the Appalachian Mountains in the United States. Table Mountain Pine, Pinus pungens, is also called Hickory Pine or Mountain Pine, though the latter name usually refers to the European species Mountain Pine - Pinus...

 () and Shortleaf Pine
Shortleaf Pine
Pinus echinata is a species of pine native to the eastern United States from southern New York south to northern Florida, west to the extreme southeast of Kansas, and southwest to eastern Texas. The tree is variable in form, sometimes straight, sometimes crooked, with an irregular crown...

 (). Red Pine
Red Pine
Pinus resinosa, commonly known as the red pine or Norway pine, is pine native to North America. The Red Pine occurs from Newfoundland west to Manitoba, and south to Pennsylvania, with several smaller, disjunct populations occurring in the Appalachian Mountains in Virginia and West Virginia, as well...

 () is a boreal species that forms a few high elevation outliers as far south as West Virginia. All of these species except White Pine tend to occupy sandy, rocky, poor soil sites, which are mostly acidic in character. White Pine, a large species valued for its timber, tends to do best in rich, moist soil, either acidic or alkaline in character. Pitch Pine is also at home in acidic, boggy soil, and Table Mountain Pine may occasionally be found in this habitat as well. Shortleaf Pine is generally found in warmer habitats and at lower elevations than the other species. All the species listed do best in open or lightly shaded habitats, although White Pine also thrives in shady coves, valleys, and on floodplains.
The Appalachians are characterized by a wealth of large, beautiful deciduous broadleaf (hardwood) trees. Their occurrences are best summarized and described in E. Lucy Braun
Emma Lucy Braun
E. Lucy Braun was a prominent botanist, ecologist, and expert on the forests of the eastern United States.- Life :...

's 1950 classic, Deciduous Forests of Eastern North America (Macmillan, New York). The most diverse and richest forests are the Mixed Mesophytic or medium moisture types, which are largely confined to rich, moist montane soils of the southern and central Appalachians, particularly in the Cumberland and Allegheny Mountains, but also thrive in the southern Appalachian coves. Characteristic canopy species are White Basswood
Tilia heterophylla
Tilia heterophylla , is a species of Tilia native to mesic forests in eastern North America from central New York south to northernmost Florida and west to Missouri; it is most common in the Appalachian Mountains....

 (), Yellow Buckeye
Yellow Buckeye
Yellow Buckeye is a species of buckeye native to the Ohio Valley and Appalachian Mountains of the Eastern United States. It is a medium-sized deciduous tree growing to 20–47 m tall...

 (), Sugar Maple
Sugar Maple
Acer saccharum is a species of maple native to the hardwood forests of northeastern North America, from Nova Scotia west to southern Ontario, and south to Georgia and Texas...

 (), American Beech
American Beech
Fagus grandifolia, also known as American Beech or North american beech, is a species of beech native to eastern North America, from Nova Scotia west to southern Ontario in southeastern Canada, west to Wisconsin and south to eastern Texas and northern Florida in the United States. Trees in the...

 (), Tuliptree (), White Ash
White Ash
For another species referred to as white ash, see Eucalyptus fraxinoides.Fraxinus americana is a species of Fraxinus native to eastern North America found in mesophytic hardwood forests from Nova Scotia west to Minnesota, south to northern Florida, and southwest to eastern...

 () and Yellow Birch
Yellow Birch
Betula alleghaniensis , is a species of birch native to eastern North America, from Newfoundland to Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, southern Quebec and Ontario, and the southeast corner of Manitoba in Canada, west to Minnesota, and south in the Appalachian Mountains to northern Georgia.It is a...

 (). Other common trees are Red Maple
Red Maple
Acer rubrum , is one of the most common and widespread deciduous trees of eastern North America. It ranges from the Lake of the Woods on the border between Ontario and Minnesota, east to Newfoundland, south to near Miami, Florida, and southwest to east Texas...

 (), Shagbark
Shagbark Hickory
Carya ovata, the Shagbark Hickory, is a common hickory in the eastern United States and southeast Canada. It is a large deciduous tree, growing up to 27 m tall, and will live up to 200 years. Mature Shagbarks are easy to recognize because, as their name implies, they have shaggy bark...

 and Bitternut
Bitternut Hickory
Carya cordiformis, the Bitternut Hickory, also called bitternut or swamp hickory, is a large pecan hickory with commercial stands located mostly north of the other pecan hickories. Bitternut hickory is cut and sold in mixture with the true hickories. It is the shortest lived of the hickories,...

 Hickories () and Black or Sweet Birch
Sweet Birch
Betula lenta is a species of birch native to eastern North America, from southern Maine west to southernmost Ontario, and south in the Appalachian Mountains to northern Georgia.-Characteristics and habitat:It is a medium-sized deciduous tree reaching 20 m tall with...

 (). Small understory trees and shrubs include Flowering Dogwood
Flowering Dogwood
Cornus florida is a species of dogwood native to eastern North America, from southern Maine west to southern Ontario, Illinois, and eastern Kansas, and south to northern Florida and eastern Texas, with a disjunct population in Nuevo León and Veracruz in eastern Mexico.-Classification:The flowering...

 (), Hophornbeam (), Witch-hazel
Witch-hazel
Witch-hazel is a genus of flowering plants in the family Hamamelidaceae, with three species in North America , and one each in Japan and China...

 () and Spicebush
Lindera
Lindera is a genus of about 80-100 species of flowering plants in the family Lauraceae, mostly native to eastern Asia but with three species in eastern North America. The species are shrubs and small trees; common names include Spicewood, Spicebush, and Benjamin Bush.-Overview:They are dioecious,...

 (). There are also hundreds of perennial and annual herbs, among them such herbal and medicinal plants as American Ginseng
Ginseng
Ginseng is any one of eleven species of slow-growing perennial plants with fleshy roots, belonging to the genus Panax of the family Araliaceae....

 (), Goldenseal
Goldenseal
Goldenseal is a perennial herb in the buttercup family Ranunculaceae, native to southeastern Canada and the northeastern United States. It may be distinguished by its thick, yellow knotted rootstock. The stem is purplish and hairy above ground and yellow below ground where it connects to the...

 (), Bloodroot
Bloodroot
Bloodroot is a perennial, herbaceous flowering plant native to eastern North America from Nova Scotia, Canada southward to Florida, United States...

 () and Black Cohosh ().

The foregoing trees, shrubs and herbs are also more widely distributed in less rich mesic
Mesic habitat
In ecology, a mesic habitat is a type of habitat with a moderate or well-balanced supply of moisture, e.g., a mesic forest, a temperate hardwood forest, or dry-mesic prairie. Compared to a dry habitat, a mesic habitat is moister....

 forests that generally occupy coves, stream valleys and flood plains throughout the southern and central Appalachians at low and intermediate elevations. In the northern Appalachians and at higher elevations of the central and southern Appalachians these diverse mesic forests give way to less diverse "Northern Hardwoods" with canopies dominated only by American Beech, Sugar Maple, American Basswood () and Yellow Birch and with far fewer species of shrubs and herbs.

Dryer and rockier uplands and ridges are occupied by Oak-Chestnut type forests dominated by a variety of oaks ( spp.), hickories
Hickory
Trees in the genus Carya are commonly known as hickory, derived from the Powhatan language of Virginia. The genus includes 17–19 species of deciduous trees with pinnately compound leaves and big nuts...

 ( spp.) and, in the past, by the American Chestnut
American Chestnut
The American Chestnut is a large, deciduous tree of the beech family native to eastern North America. Before the species was devastated by the chestnut blight, a fungal disease, it was one of the most important forest trees throughout its range...

 (). The American Chestnut was virtually eliminated as a canopy species by the introduced fungal Chestnut Blight
Chestnut blight
The pathogenic fungus Cryphonectria parasitica is a member of the ascomycota category, and is the main cause of chestnut blight, a devastating disease of the American chestnut tree that caused a mass extinction in the early 1900s of this once plentiful tree from its historic range in the eastern...

 (), but lives on as sapling-sized sprouts that originate from roots, which are not killed by the fungus. In present day forest canopies Chestnut has been largely replaced by oaks.

The oak forests of the southern and central Appalachians consist largely of Black, Northern Red
Northern Red Oak
Quercus rubra, commonly called northern red oak or champion oak, , is an oak in the red oak group . It is a native of North America, in the northeastern United States and southeast Canada...

, White
White oak
Quercus alba, the white oak, is one of the pre-eminent hardwoods of eastern North America. It is a long-lived oak of the Fagaceae family, native to eastern North America and found from southern Quebec west to eastern Minnesota and south to northern Florida and eastern Texas. Specimens have been...

, Chestnut
Chestnut oak
Quercus prinus , the chestnut oak, is a species of oak in the white oak group, Quercus sect. Quercus. It is native to the eastern United States, where it is one of the most important ridgetop trees from southern Maine southwest to central Mississippi, with an outlying northwestern population in...

 and Scarlet Oak
Scarlet Oak
Quercus coccinea, the scarlet oak, is an oak in the red oak section Quercus sect. Lobatae. The scarlet oak can be mistaken for the pin oak, the black oak, or occasionally the red oak. On scarlet oak the sinuses between lobes are "C"-shaped in comparison to pin oak , which has "U"-shaped sinuses...

s ( and ) and hickories, such as the Pignut () in particular. The richest forests, which grade into mesic types, usually in coves and on gentle slopes, have dominantly White and Northern Red Oaks, while the driest sites are dominated by Chestnut Oak, or sometimes by Scarlet or Northern Red Oaks. In the northern Appalachians the oaks, except for White and Northern Red, drop out, while the latter extends farthest north.
The oak forests generally lack the diverse small tree, shrub and herb layers of mesic forests. Shrubs are generally ericaceous, and include the evergreen Mountain Laurel (), various species of blueberries
Blueberry
Blueberries are flowering plants of the genus Vaccinium with dark-blue berries and are perennial...

 ( spp.), Black Huckleberry (), a number of deciduous rhododendron
Rhododendron
Rhododendron is a genus of over 1 000 species of woody plants in the heath family, most with showy flowers...

s (azaleas), and smaller heaths such as Teaberry () and Trailing Arbutus (). The evergreen Great Rhododendron () is characteristic of moist stream valleys. These occurrences are in line with the prevailing acidic character of most oak forest soils. In contrast, the much rarer Chinquapin Oak () demands alkaline soils and generally grows where limestone rock is near the surface. Hence no ericaceous shrubs are associated with it.

The Appalachian floras also include a diverse assemblage of bryophyte
Bryophyte
Bryophyte is a traditional name used to refer to all embryophytes that do not have true vascular tissue and are therefore called 'non-vascular plants'. Some bryophytes do have specialized tissues for the transport of water; however since these do not contain lignin, they are not considered to be...

s (mosses and liverworts), as well as fungi. Some species are rare and/or endemic. As with vascular plant
Vascular plant
Vascular plants are those plants that have lignified tissues for conducting water, minerals, and photosynthetic products through the plant. Vascular plants include the clubmosses, Equisetum, ferns, gymnosperms and angiosperms...

s, these tend to be closely related to the character of the soils and thermal environment in which they are found.

Eastern deciduous forests are subject to a number of serious insect and disease outbreaks. Among the most conspicuous is that of the introduced Gypsy Moth
Gypsy moth
The gypsy moth, Lymantria dispar, is a moth in the family Lymantriidae of Eurasian origin. Originally ranging from Europe to Asia, it was introduced to North America in the late 1860s and has been expanding its range ever since...

  (), which infests primarily oaks, causing severe defoliation and tree mortality. But it also has the benefit of eliminating weak individuals, and thus improving the genetic stock, as well as creating rich habitat of a type through accumulation of dead wood. Because hardwoods sprout so readily, this moth is not as harmful as the Hemlock Woolly Adelgid
Hemlock Woolly Adelgid
Hemlock woolly adelgid , commonly abbreviated as HWA, is a true bug native to East Asia that feeds by sucking sap from hemlock trees . In eastern North America, it is a destructive pest that poses a major threat to the eastern hemlock and the Carolina hemlock...

. Perhaps more serious is the introduced Beech Bark Disease Complex, which includes both a scale insect () and fungal components.

During the 19th and early 20th centuries the Appalachian forests were subject to severe and destructive logging and land clearing, which resulted in the designation of the National Forests and Parks as well many state protected areas. However, these and a variety of other destructive activities continue, albeit in diminished forms; and thus far only a few ecologically based management practices have taken hold.

Fauna

Animals that characterize the Appalachian forests include five species of tree squirrel
Tree squirrel
Tree squirrels include over a hundred species that are found on all continents except Antarctica, and are the members of the squirrel family most commonly referred to as "squirrels"...

s. The most commonly seen is the low to moderate elevation Eastern Gray Squirrel
Eastern Gray Squirrel
The eastern gray squirrel is a tree squirrel in the genus Sciurus native to the eastern and midwestern United States, and to the southerly portions of the eastern provinces of Canada...

 (). Occupying similar habitat is the slightly larger Fox Squirrel
Fox Squirrel
The fox squirrel is the largest species of tree squirrel native to North America...

 () and the much smaller Southern Flying Squirrel
Southern Flying Squirrel
The Southern Flying Squirrel is one of two species of the genus Glaucomys, the only flying squirrels found in North America . It is found in deciduous and mixed woods in the eastern half of North America, from southeastern Canada, to Florida, USA...

 (). More characteristic of cooler northern and high elevation habitat is the Red Squirrel
American Red Squirrel
The American Red Squirrel is one of three species of tree squirrel currently classified in the genus Tamiasciurus and known as pine squirrels...

 (), whereas the Appalachian Northern Flying Squirrel
Northern Flying Squirrel
The Northern flying squirrel is one of two species of the genus Glaucomys, the only flying squirrels found in North America . Unlike most members of their family, flying squirrels are strictly nocturnal...

 (), which closely resembles the Southern Flying Squirrel, is confined to northern hardwood and spruce-fir forests.

As familiar as squirrels are the Eastern Cottontail
Eastern Cottontail
The eastern cottontail is a New World cottontail rabbit, a member of the family Leporidae. It is one of the most common rabbit species in North America.-Distribution:...

 rabbit () and the White-tailed Deer
White-tailed Deer
The white-tailed deer , also known as the Virginia deer or simply as the whitetail, is a medium-sized deer native to the United States , Canada, Mexico, Central America, and South America as far south as Peru...

 (). The latter in particular has greatly increased in abundance as a result of the extirpation of the Eastern Wolf
Eastern Wolf
The Eastern Wolf , also known as Eastern Canadian Wolf or Eastern Canadian Red Wolf, may be a subspecies of gray wolf or a distinct species of canid native to the eastern part of North America since the Pleistocene era. It seems to be closely related to the Red Wolf...

 () and the North American Cougar. This has led to the overgrazing and browsing of many plants of the Appalachian forests, as well as destruction of agricultural crops. Other deer include the Moose
Moose
The moose or Eurasian elk is the largest extant species in the deer family. Moose are distinguished by the palmate antlers of the males; other members of the family have antlers with a dendritic configuration...

 (), found only in the north, and the Elk
Elk
The Elk is the large deer, also called Cervus canadensis or wapiti, of North America and eastern Asia.Elk may also refer to:Other antlered mammals:...

 (), which, although once extirpated
Eastern elk
The Eastern elk is one of six subspecies of elk that inhabited northern and eastern United States, and southern Canada. The last Eastern elk was shot in Pennsylvania on September 1, 1877. The subspecies was declared as extinct by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service in 1880...

, is now making a comeback, through transplantation, in the southern and central Appalachians. In Quebec
Quebec
Quebec or is a province in east-central Canada. It is the only Canadian province with a predominantly French-speaking population and the only one whose sole official language is French at the provincial level....

, the Chic-Chocs host the only population of Caribou () south of the St. Lawrence River. An additional species that is common in the north but extends its range southward at high elevations to Virginia and West Virginia is the Varying or Snowshoe Hare
Snowshoe Hare
The Snowshoe Hare , also called the Varying Hare, or Snowshoe Rabbit, is a species of hare found in North America. It has the name "snowshoe" because of the large size of its hind feet and the marks its tail leaves. The animal's feet prevent it from sinking into the snow when it hops and walks...

 (). However, these central Appalachian populations are scattered and very small.

Another species of great interest is the Beaver
American Beaver
The North American Beaver is the only species of beaver in the Americas, native to North America and introduced to South America. In the United States and Canada, where no other species of beaver occurs, it is usually simply referred to as "beaver"...

 (), which is showing a great resurgence in numbers after its near extirpation for its pelt. This resurgence is bringing about a drastic alteration in habitat through the construction of dams and other structures throughout the mountains.

Other common forest animals are the Black Bear
American black bear
The American black bear is a medium-sized bear native to North America. It is the continent's smallest and most common bear species. Black bears are omnivores, with their diets varying greatly depending on season and location. They typically live in largely forested areas, but do leave forests in...

 (), Striped Skunk
Striped Skunk
The striped skunk, Mephitis mephitis, is an omnivorous mammal of the skunk family Mephitidae. Found over most of the North American continent north of Mexico, it is one of the best-known mammals in Canada and the United States.-Description:...

 (), Raccoon
Raccoon
Procyon is a genus of nocturnal mammals, comprising three species commonly known as raccoons, in the family Procyonidae. The most familiar species, the common raccoon , is often known simply as "the" raccoon, as the two other raccoon species in the genus are native only to the tropics and are...

 (), Woodchuck (), Bobcat
Bobcat
The bobcat is a North American mammal of the cat family Felidae, appearing during the Irvingtonian stage of around 1.8 million years ago . With twelve recognized subspecies, it ranges from southern Canada to northern Mexico, including most of the continental United States...

 (), Gray Fox
Gray Fox
The gray fox is a mammal of the order Carnivora ranging throughout most of the southern half of North America from southern Canada to the northern part of South America...

 (), Red Fox
Red Fox
The red fox is the largest of the true foxes, as well as being the most geographically spread member of the Carnivora, being distributed across the entire northern hemisphere from the Arctic Circle to North Africa, Central America, and the steppes of Asia...

 () and in recent years, the Coyote
Coyote
The coyote , also known as the American jackal or the prairie wolf, is a species of canine found throughout North and Central America, ranging from Panama in the south, north through Mexico, the United States and Canada...

 (), another species favored by the advent of Europeans and the extirpation of Eastern and Red Wolves
Red Wolf
The red wolf is a North American canid which once roamed throughout the Southeastern United States and is a glacial period survivor of the Late Pleistocene epoch...

. European boar
Boar
Wild boar, also wild pig, is a species of the pig genus Sus, part of the biological family Suidae. The species includes many subspecies. It is the wild ancestor of the domestic pig, an animal with which it freely hybridises...

s were introduced in the early 20th century.

Characteristic birds of the forest are Wild Turkey
Wild Turkey
The Wild Turkey is native to North America and is the heaviest member of the Galliformes. It is the same species as the domestic turkey, which derives from the South Mexican subspecies of wild turkey .Adult wild turkeys have long reddish-yellow to grayish-green...

 (), Ruffed Grouse
Ruffed Grouse
The Ruffed Grouse is a medium-sized grouse occurring in forests from the Appalachian Mountains across Canada to Alaska. It is non-migratory.The Ruffed Grouse is frequently referred to as a "partridge"...

 (), Mourning Dove
Mourning Dove
The Mourning Dove is a member of the dove family . The bird is also called the Turtle Dove or the American Mourning Dove or Rain Dove, and formerly was known as the Carolina Pigeon or Carolina Turtledove. It is one of the most abundant and widespread of all North American birds...

 (), Common Raven
Common Raven
The Common Raven , also known as the Northern Raven, is a large, all-black passerine bird. Found across the northern hemisphere, it is the most widely distributed of all corvids...

 (), Wood Duck
Wood Duck
The Wood Duck or Carolina Duck is a species of duck found in North America. It is one of the most colourful of North American waterfowl.-Description:...

 (), Great Horned Owl
Great Horned Owl
The Great Horned Owl, , also known as the Tiger Owl, is a large owl native to the Americas. It is an adaptable bird with a vast range and is the most widely distributed true owl in the Americas.-Description:...

 (), Barred Owl
Barred Owl
The Barred Owl is a large typical owl. It goes by many other names, including eight hooter, rain owl, wood owl, and striped owl, but is probably best known as the hoot owl.-Description:...

 (), Screech Owl
Scops owl
Scops owls are Strigidae belong to the genus Otus. Approximately 45 living species are known, but new ones are frequently recognized and unknown ones are still being discovered every few years or so, especially in Indonesia...

 (), Red-tailed Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
The Red-tailed Hawk is a bird of prey, one of three species colloquially known in the United States as the "chickenhawk," though it rarely preys on standard sized chickens. It breeds throughout most of North America, from western Alaska and northern Canada to as far south as Panama and the West...

 (), Red-shouldered Hawk
Red-shouldered Hawk
The Red-shouldered Hawk is a medium-sized hawk. Its breeding range spans eastern North America and along the coast of California and northern to northeastern-central Mexico.-Description:...

 (), and Northern Goshawk (), as well as a great variety of "songbirds" (Passeriformes), like the warblers in particular.

Of great importance are the many species of salamander
Salamander
Salamander is a common name of approximately 500 species of amphibians. They are typically characterized by a superficially lizard-like appearance, with their slender bodies, short noses, and long tails. All known fossils and extinct species fall under the order Caudata, while sometimes the extant...

s, and in particular the lungless
Lungless salamander
The Plethodontidae, or Lungless salamanders, are a family of salamanders. Most species are native to the western hemisphere, from British Columbia to Brazil, although a few species are found in Sardinia, Europe south of the Alps, and South Korea...

 species (Family ) that live in great abundance concealed by leaves and debris, on the forest floor. Most frequently seen, however, is the Eastern or Red-spotted Newt
Eastern Newt
The Eastern Newt or Red-spotted Newt is a common salamander of eastern North America. Eastern newts dwell in wet forests with small lakes or ponds. They can coexist in an aquatic environment with fish, however, their skin secretes a poisonous substance when the newt is threatened or injured...

 (), whose terrestrial eft form is often encountered on the open, dry forest floor. It has been estimated that salamanders represent the largest class of animal biomass in the Appalachian forests. Frogs and toads are of lesser diversity and abundance, but the Wood Frog
Wood Frog
The Wood Frog has a broad distribution over North America, extending from the southern Appalachians to the boreal forest with several notable disjunct populations including lowland eastern North Carolina...

 () is, like the eft, commonly encountered on the dry forest floor, while a number of species of small frogs, such as Spring Peeper
Spring Peeper
The Spring Peeper is a small chorus frog widespread throughout the eastern USA and Canada.-Subspecies:There are two subspecies of the Spring Peeper, the Northern and the Southern Spring Peeper . The Northern is similar to the Southern except for a strong dark marking on the Southern frog's belly...

s (), enliven the forest with their calls. Salamanders and other amphibians contribute greatly to nutrient cycling through their consumption of small life forms on the forest floor and in aquatic habitats.

Although reptiles are less abundant and diverse than amphibians, a number of snakes are conspicuous members of the fauna. One of the largest is the non-poisonous Black Rat Snake
Black Rat Snake
The Western ratsnake — also called black rat snake, pilot black snake, or simply black snake — is a nonvenomous colubrid species found in North America. No subspecies are currently recognized....

 (), while the Common Garter Snake
Common Garter Snake
The Common Garter Snake is a snake indigenous to North America. Most garter snakes have a pattern of yellow stripes on a brown or green background and their average length is about , maximum about .-Subspecies:...

 () is among the smallest but most abundant. The American Copperhead () and the Timber Rattler
Timber rattler
Timber rattler may refer to:* Crotalus horridus, a.k.a. the timber rattlesnake, a venomous pitviper species found in the eastern United States....

 () are poisonous pit vipers. There are few lizards, but the Broad-headed Skink
Broad-headed Skink
The Broad-headed Skink is — together with the Great Plains Skink — the largest of the Eumeces-skinks, growing to a total length of to nearly .-Description:...

 (), at up to 13 inches (33 cm) in length, and an excellent climber and swimmer, is one of the largest and most spectacular in appearance and action. The most common turtle is the Eastern Box Turtle (), which is found in both upland and lowland forests in the central and southern Appalachians. Prominent among aquatic species is the large Common Snapping Turtle (), which occurs throughout the Appalachians.

Appalachian streams are notable for their highly diverse freshwater fish life. Among the most abundant and diverse are those of the minnow family (Family Cyprinidae), while species of the colorful Darters
Darter (fish)
The fish popularly known as darters are small perch-like fish.They inhabit freshwater streams in North America. They are members of the family percidae and include members of the Ammocrypta, Crystallaria, Etheostoma and Percina genera....

 ( spp.) are also abundant.

A characteristic fish of shaded, cool Appalachian forest streams is the Wild Brook or Speckled Trout
Brook trout
The brook trout, Salvelinus fontinalis, is a species of fish in the salmon family of order Salmoniformes. In many parts of its range, it is known as the speckled trout or squaretail. A potamodromous population in Lake Superior are known as coaster trout or, simply, as coasters...

 (), which is much sought after for its sporting qualities. However in past years such trout waters have been much degraded by increasing temperatures because of timber cutting, global warming
Global warming
Global warming refers to the rising average temperature of Earth's atmosphere and oceans and its projected continuation. In the last 100 years, Earth's average surface temperature increased by about with about two thirds of the increase occurring over just the last three decades...

 and by pollution from various sources.

Influence on history

For a century, the Appalachians were a barrier to the westward expansion of the British colonies. The continuity of the mountain system, the bewildering multiplicity of its succeeding ridges, the tortuous courses and roughness of its transverse passes, a heavy forest, and dense undergrowth all conspired to hold the settlers on the seaward-sloping plateaus and coastal plains. Only by way of the Hudson
Hudson Valley
The Hudson Valley comprises the valley of the Hudson River and its adjacent communities in New York State, United States, from northern Westchester County northward to the cities of Albany and Troy.-History:...

 and Mohawk Valley
Mohawk Valley
The Mohawk Valley region of the U.S. state of New York is the area surrounding the Mohawk River, sandwiched between the Adirondack Mountains and Catskill Mountains....

s, and round about the southern termination of the system were there easy routes to the interior of the country, and these were long closed by powerful Native American
Native Americans in the United States
Native Americans in the United States are the indigenous peoples in North America within the boundaries of the present-day continental United States, parts of Alaska, and the island state of Hawaii. They are composed of numerous, distinct tribes, states, and ethnic groups, many of which survive as...

 tribes such as the Iroquois
Iroquois
The Iroquois , also known as the Haudenosaunee or the "People of the Longhouse", are an association of several tribes of indigenous people of North America...

, Creek
Creek people
The Muscogee , also known as the Creek or Creeks, are a Native American people traditionally from the southeastern United States. Mvskoke is their name in traditional spelling. The modern Muscogee live primarily in Oklahoma, Alabama, Georgia, and Florida...

, and Cherokee
Cherokee
The Cherokee are a Native American people historically settled in the Southeastern United States . Linguistically, they are part of the Iroquoian language family...

, among others. Expansion was also blocked by the alliances the British Empire
British Empire
The British Empire comprised the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom. It originated with the overseas colonies and trading posts established by England in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. At its height, it was the...

 had forged with Native American
Native Americans in the United States
Native Americans in the United States are the indigenous peoples in North America within the boundaries of the present-day continental United States, parts of Alaska, and the island state of Hawaii. They are composed of numerous, distinct tribes, states, and ethnic groups, many of which survive as...

 tribes, the proximity of the Spanish colonies in the south and French activity throughout the interior.

In eastern Pennsylvania the Great Appalachian Valley
Great Appalachian Valley
The Great Valley, also called the Great Appalachian Valley or Great Valley Region, is one of the major landform features of eastern North America. It is a gigantic trough — a chain of valley lowlands — and the central feature of the Appalachian Mountain system...

, or Great Valley, was accessible by reason of a broad gateway between the end of South Mountain
South Mountain (Maryland and Pennsylvania)
South Mountain is the northern extension of the Blue Ridge Mountain range in Maryland and Pennsylvania. From the Potomac River near Knoxville, Maryland in the south, to Dillsburg, Pennsylvania in the north, the long range separates the Hagerstown and Cumberland valleys from the Piedmont regions of...

 and the Highlands, and here between the Susquehanna and Delaware Rivers settled many Germans
Germans
The Germans are a Germanic ethnic group native to Central Europe. The English term Germans has referred to the German-speaking population of the Holy Roman Empire since the Late Middle Ages....

 and Moravians
Moravians (ethnic group)
Moravians are the modern West Slavic inhabitants of the historical land of Moravia, the easternmost part of the Czech Republic, which includes the Moravian Slovakia. They speak the two main groups of Moravian dialects , the transitional Bohemian-Moravian dialect subgroup and standard Czech...

 forming the Pennsylvania Dutch
Pennsylvania Dutch
Pennsylvania Dutch refers to immigrants and their descendants from southwestern Germany and Switzerland who settled in Pennsylvania in the 17th and 18th centuries...

 community, some of whom even now speak a unique American dialect of German known as the "Pennsylvania German language
Pennsylvania German language
The Pennsylvania German language is a variety of West Central German possibly spoken by more than 250,000 people in North America...

" (also known as "Pennsylvania Dutch"). These were late comers to the New World forced to the frontier to find cheap land. With their followers of both German, English and Scots-Irish
Scots-Irish American
Scotch-Irish Americans are an estimated 250,000 Presbyterian and other Protestant dissenters from the Irish province of Ulster who immigrated to North America primarily during the colonial era and their descendants. Some scholars also include the 150,000 Ulster Protestants who immigrated to...

 origin, they worked their way southward and soon occupied all of the Shenandoah Valley
Shenandoah Valley
The Shenandoah Valley is both a geographic valley and cultural region of western Virginia and West Virginia in the United States. The valley is bounded to the east by the Blue Ridge Mountains, to the west by the eastern front of the Ridge-and-Valley Appalachians , to the north by the Potomac River...

, ceded by the Iroquois, and the upper reaches of the Great Valley tributaries of the Tennessee River
Tennessee River
The Tennessee River is the largest tributary of the Ohio River. It is approximately 652 miles long and is located in the southeastern United States in the Tennessee Valley. The river was once popularly known as the Cherokee River, among other names...

, ceded by the Cherokee.

By 1755, the obstacle to westward expansion had been thus reduced by half; outposts of the English colonists had penetrated the Allegheny and Cumberland plateaus, threatening French monopoly in the transmontane region, and a conflict became inevitable. Making common cause against the French to determine the control of the Ohio valley
Ohio River
The Ohio River is the largest tributary, by volume, of the Mississippi River. At the confluence, the Ohio is even bigger than the Mississippi and, thus, is hydrologically the main stream of the whole river system, including the Allegheny River further upstream...

, the unsuspected strength of the colonists was revealed, and the successful ending of the French and Indian War
French and Indian War
The French and Indian War is the common American name for the war between Great Britain and France in North America from 1754 to 1763. In 1756, the war erupted into the world-wide conflict known as the Seven Years' War and thus came to be regarded as the North American theater of that war...

 extended England's territory to the Mississippi
Mississippi River
The Mississippi River is the largest river system in North America. Flowing entirely in the United States, this river rises in western Minnesota and meanders slowly southwards for to the Mississippi River Delta at the Gulf of Mexico. With its many tributaries, the Mississippi's watershed drains...

. To this strength the geographic isolation enforced by the Appalachian mountains had been a prime contributor. The confinement of the colonies between an ocean and a mountain wall led to the fullest occupation of the coastal border of the continent, which was possible under existing conditions of agriculture, conducing to a community of purpose
Community of purpose
A community of purpose is a community of people who are going through the same process or are trying to achieve a similar objective. Such communities serve a functional purpose, smoothing the path of the member for a limited period surrounding a given activity...

, a political and commercial solidarity, which would not otherwise have been developed. As early as 1700 it was possible to ride from Portland, Maine
Portland, Maine
Portland is the largest city in Maine and is the county seat of Cumberland County. The 2010 city population was 66,194, growing 3 percent since the census of 2000...

, to southern Virginia
Virginia
The Commonwealth of Virginia , is a U.S. state on the Atlantic Coast of the Southern United States. Virginia is nicknamed the "Old Dominion" and sometimes the "Mother of Presidents" after the eight U.S. presidents born there...

, sleeping each night at some considerable village. In contrast to this complete industrial occupation, the French territory was held by a small and very scattered population, its extent and openness adding materially to the difficulties of a disputed tenure. Bearing the brunt of this contest as they did, the colonies were undergoing preparation for the subsequent struggle with the home government. Unsupported by shipping, the American armies fought toward the sea with the mountains at their back protecting them against British leagued with the Aboriginals. The few settlements beyond the Great Valley were free for self-defense because debarred from general participation in the conflict by reason of their position.
Before the French and Indian War
French and Indian War
The French and Indian War is the common American name for the war between Great Britain and France in North America from 1754 to 1763. In 1756, the war erupted into the world-wide conflict known as the Seven Years' War and thus came to be regarded as the North American theater of that war...

, the Appalachian Mountains lay on the indeterminate boundary between Britain's colonies along the Atlantic and French areas centered in the Mississippi basin. After the French and Indian War, the Proclamation of 1763 restricted settlement for Great Britain
Great Britain
Great Britain or Britain is an island situated to the northwest of Continental Europe. It is the ninth largest island in the world, and the largest European island, as well as the largest of the British Isles...

's thirteen original colonies
Thirteen Colonies
The Thirteen Colonies were English and later British colonies established on the Atlantic coast of North America between 1607 and 1733. They declared their independence in the American Revolution and formed the United States of America...

 in North America to east of the summit line of the mountains (except in the northern regions where the Great Lakes
Great Lakes
The Great Lakes are a collection of freshwater lakes located in northeastern North America, on the Canada – United States border. Consisting of Lakes Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie, and Ontario, they form the largest group of freshwater lakes on Earth by total surface, coming in second by volume...

 formed the boundary). Although the line was adjusted several times to take frontier settlements into account and was impossible to enforce as law, it was strongly resented by backcountry settlers throughout the Appalachians. The Proclamation Line can be seen as one of the grievances which led to the American Revolutionary War
American Revolutionary War
The American Revolutionary War , the American War of Independence, or simply the Revolutionary War, began as a war between the Kingdom of Great Britain and thirteen British colonies in North America, and ended in a global war between several European great powers.The war was the result of the...

. Many frontier settlers held that the defeat of the French opened the land west of the mountains to English settlement, only to find settlement barred by the British King's proclamation. The backcountry settlers who fought in the Illinois campaign of George Rogers Clark
George Rogers Clark
George Rogers Clark was a soldier from Virginia and the highest ranking American military officer on the northwestern frontier during the American Revolutionary War. He served as leader of the Kentucky militia throughout much of the war...

 were motivated to secure their settlement of Kentucky.

With the formation of the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, an important first phase of westward expansion in the late 18th century and early 19th century consisted of the migration of European-descended settlers westward across the mountains into the Ohio Valley
Ohio River
The Ohio River is the largest tributary, by volume, of the Mississippi River. At the confluence, the Ohio is even bigger than the Mississippi and, thus, is hydrologically the main stream of the whole river system, including the Allegheny River further upstream...

 through the Cumberland Gap
Cumberland Gap
Cumberland Gap is a pass through the Cumberland Mountains region of the Appalachian Mountains, also known as the Cumberland Water Gap, at the juncture of the U.S. states of Tennessee, Kentucky, and Virginia...

 and other mountain pass
Mountain pass
A mountain pass is a route through a mountain range or over a ridge. If following the lowest possible route, a pass is locally the highest point on that route...

es. The Erie Canal
Erie Canal
The Erie Canal is a waterway in New York that runs about from Albany, New York, on the Hudson River to Buffalo, New York, at Lake Erie, completing a navigable water route from the Atlantic Ocean to the Great Lakes. The canal contains 36 locks and encompasses a total elevation differential of...

, finished in 1825, formed the first route through the Appalachians that was capable of large amounts of commerce.

See also

  • Appalachia
    Appalachia
    Appalachia is a term used to describe a cultural region in the eastern United States that stretches from the Southern Tier of New York state to northern Alabama, Mississippi, and Georgia. While the Appalachian Mountains stretch from Belle Isle in Canada to Cheaha Mountain in the U.S...

  • Appalachian League
    Appalachian League
    The Appalachian League is a Rookie-class minor league that began play in 1937 with one year of inactivity in 1956. From 1937 to 1962, it was a Class D League. Teams are located in the Appalachian regions of Virginia, North Carolina, West Virginia and Tennessee...

  • Appalachian Mountain Club
    Appalachian Mountain Club
    The Appalachian Mountain Club is one of the United States' oldest outdoor groups. Created in 1876 to explore and preserve the White Mountains in New Hampshire, it has expanded throughout the northeastern U.S., with 12 chapters stretching from Maine to Washington, D.C...


Further reading

  • Brooks, Maurice
    Maurice Brooks
    Maurice Graham Brooks was an American educator and naturalist whose name became synonymous with the natural history of Appalachia.-Biography:...

     (1965), The Appalachians: The Naturalist's America; illustrated by Lois Darling and Lo Brooks. Boston
    Boston
    Boston is the capital of and largest city in Massachusetts, and is one of the oldest cities in the United States. The largest city in New England, Boston is regarded as the unofficial "Capital of New England" for its economic and cultural impact on the entire New England region. The city proper had...

    ; Houghton Mifflin Company.
  • Caudill, Harry M.
    Harry M. Caudill
    Harry M. Caudill was an American author, historian, lawyer, legislator, and environmentalist from Letcher County, in the coalfields of southeastern Kentucky.-Biography:...

     (1963), Night Comes to the Cumberlands. ISBN 0-316-13212-8.
  • Constantz, George (2004), Hollows, Peepers, and Highlanders: an Appalachian Mountain Ecology (2nd edition). West Virginia University Press; Morgantown
    Morgantown, West Virginia
    Morgantown is a city in Monongalia County, West Virginia. It is the county seat of Monongalia County. Placed along the banks of the Monongahela River, Morgantown is the largest city in North-Central West Virginia, and the base of the Morgantown metropolitan area...

    . 359 p.
  • Weidensaul, Scott (2000), Mountains of the Heart: A Natural History of the Appalachians. Fulcrum Publishing, 288 pages, ISBN 1-55591-139-0.


Appalachian flora and fauna-related journals:
  • Castanea, the journal of the Southern Appalachian Botanical Society.
  • Banisteria, a journal devoted to the natural history of Virginia.
  • The Journal of the Torrey Botanical Society.

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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