Bill Leslie's Carolina Conversations

Remembering Elisha Mitchell

Posted October 2, 2007

Did you know that Grandfather Mountain was once considered the highest peak in North Carolina?

UNC science professor Elisha Mitchell wasn't so sure, though. He noticed that several peaks in the Black Mountain range seemed to be taller than Grandfather in the Blue Ridge chain of peaks. Back in the 1800's before all the haze and pollution it was easier to view a wide range of mountains on a clear day.

But there was no GPS or other modern measuring devices in those days. Scientists had to use temperature and barometric pressure as guides to calculating elevation. And they had to move fast covering as many as 40 miles in two or three days moving up and down those laurel thickets brimming with bears and snakes.

Eventually it was determined that Mount Mitchell was the highest peak at 6,684 feet. Mitchell got its name from the professor who died exploring the mountain in an attempt to verify his measurements. Dr. Mitchell slipped on a rocky ledge, suffered a serious head wound and drowned in a waterfall below. His body was discovered a few days later by Big Tom Wilson, a well known hunter and tracker. That was just four years before the start of the Civil War.

Today’s question: what is your favorite North Carolina mountain and are you planning an autumn foliage journey this year?


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  • bleslie Oct 3, 2007

    Powerful description blackdog. Amen.

  • blackdog Oct 3, 2007

    I have hiked almost all of the N.C. mountains. I hiked from Black Mountain up to Mt. Mitchell, over to Burnsville and Celo. Elisha Mitchell was a true pioneer and a tough one. But, the vista from Wisemans view, reveals mountains which resemble the hand of God offering the land to all...

  • bleslie Oct 3, 2007

    Yes, Wiseman's View is the pinnacle of mountain beauty, prmoose!

  • carolinamissy Oct 3, 2007

    I have to agree with some others who have posted. I can't pick a favorite mountain. Any place I travel on the Parkway is my favorite. I just went to the Grand Fall Rod Run in Tennesee.We used go every summer when I was a little girl. It was my first trip back to Pegion Forge in 16 years. So much has changed since the last time I was there, but the nountains were still beautiful. I had a great time remebering with my dad all the things we used to do as a family on all those other vacations. For me, it was like going home.

  • Wheelman Oct 3, 2007

    How could I ever pick a favorite. It's like being asked which of your children you love the best.

  • Cindy Oct 2, 2007

    Any place along the Great Smokey Mountain Parkway and the Blue Ridge Parkway are favorites to me. There is nothing like the wonderful mountains of NC. Why go to the mountains if you don't take a drive down the Parkway. I love going to Climings Dome and Mabry Mill. Of course I also enjoy Cades Cove in TN.

  • bornbredtarheel Oct 2, 2007

    I love going through the Boone area; I won't get to go any time soon though - I'm going on a trip with my dad.

  • prmoose Oct 2, 2007

    Burke Buddy .... Two sites top my list. Sitting on the rim of Linville Gorge at Wiseman's View is pretty special. My second spot is Green Knob just under Mount Mitchell. Anything west of Stateville is home!

  • bleslie Oct 2, 2007

    Having grown up in Morganton my favorite mountains are Table Rock and Hawksbill followed closely by Grandfather Mountain and the mighty Roan. My father loved the gentle beauty of the South Mountains.

  • gator nation gal Oct 2, 2007

    According to Parks and Recreation "Logging activity had expanded rapidly by 1913 and citizens began to voice their alarm about the destruction of the forest. Foremost among them was Locke Craig, governor of North Carolina from 1913 to 1917.
    In 1915, a bill was introduced in the state legislature establishing Mount Mitchell as the first state park. The legislation passed both houses quickly and on March 3, 1915, the North Carolina State Parks System came into being. In appreciation of Governor Craig's efforts, the second highest peak east of the Mississippi, with an elevation of 6,647 feet and also in North Carolina, was named Mount Craig."




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