Blue Mountain (Pennsylvania)
The "Great Wall" of Blue Mountain
|Elevation||2,320 ft (710 m)|
|Length||150 mi (240 km) east-west|
|Borders on||Ridge-and-Valley Appalachians and Great Appalachian Valley|
|Type of rock||Tuscarora Formation and Shawangunk Formation; sedimentary|
Blue Mountain is a ridge that forms the eastern edge of the Appalachian mountain range in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania. It cuts across the eastern half of the state from New Jersey to Maryland, providing a distinct boundary between a number of Pennsylvania's geographical and cultural regions. To its northwest side are the southern and central mountains and valleys, the "coal region," and the Poconos. To its southeast side are the Cumberland Valley, the "capital region," Pennsylvania Dutch Country, and the Lehigh Valley.
The ridge of Blue Mountain runs for 150 miles (240 km) through Pennsylvania, reaching an elevation of 2,270 feet (690 m) above sea level just north of the Pennsylvania Turnpike, near the borough of Newburg. Most of the ridgecrest, however, only reaches between 1,400 feet (430 m) and 1,700 feet (520 m) in elevation. The mountain's width varies from 1 mile (1.6 km) to 3 miles (4.8 km).
The southwestern end of the mountain is at Big Gap, west of Shippensburg. (The mountain ridge continues to the southwest towards Maryland under the name of Broad Mountain.) The northeastern end of the mountain is at the Delaware Water Gap on the New Jersey border. Mount Minsi, forms the promontory overlooking the Delaware River. The ridge of Blue Mountain continues northeast into New Jersey as the Kittatinny Mountains.
Four of Pennsylvania's major rivers cut through Blue Mountain in water gaps.
- The Delaware River, which forms Pennsylvania's eastern border with New Jersey, passes through the ridge just southeast of Stroudsburg.
- The Lehigh River, which feeds the Delaware at Easton, passes through the ridge near Palmerton.
- The Schuylkill River, which feeds the Delaware at Philadelphia, passes through the ridge just north of Hamburg.
- The Susquehanna River, which feeds the Chesapeake Bay, passes through the ridge just north of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania's capital.
The Pennsylvania Turnpike
The Pennsylvania Turnpike system passes through the Blue Mountain at two points.
- The Blue Mountain Tunnel carries the Turnpike's east-west mainline (Interstate 76) through the ridge in northern Franklin County. The turnpike also tunnels through a parallel ridge of the same mountain just to the west with the two tunnel portals only 0.2 miles (0.32 km) apart; the name of this western tunnel is Kittatinny Mountain.
- The Lehigh Tunnel, so named to avoid confusion with the former, carries the Turnpike's north-south Northeast Extension (Interstate 476) through the ridge between Lehigh and Carbon Counties.
Both tunnels (each consisting of two tubes) carry two lanes in each direction of travel.
Blue Mountain attractions in Pennsylvania
- The Appalachian Trail is concurrent with the top of the ridge from New Jersey to northern Lebanon County.
- Hawk Mountain Sanctuary is located at the very northern edge of Berks County.
- Hawk Mountain Ranger School, located just south of the Sanctuary, trains Civil Air Patrol members for Search and Rescue.
- Blue Mountain Ski Area is found on the north face of the ridge in the southeastern corner of Carbon County.
- Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area reaches across Northampton, Monroe, and Pike Counties and into New Jersey, mostly to the northwest of the ridge.
- Boyd Big Tree Preserve Conservation Area in Dauphin County
- "Blue Mountain". Geographic Names Information System, U.S. Geological Survey. Retrieved 2009-02-07.
- What's in a name, Spanning the Gap newsletter of the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, Summer 1984
- "Clarks Knob". Geographic Names Information System, U.S. Geological Survey. Retrieved 2009-02-08.
- U.S. Geological Survey 1:24,000-scale and 1:250,000-scale topographic map series