Garden Mountain Cluster

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Garden Mountain Cluster
AIMG 9546burkes-garden-va-06-2016.jpg
Aerial view of Garden Mountain where it encircles Burke's Garden
Map showing the location of Garden Mountain Cluster
Map showing the location of Garden Mountain Cluster
Location of Garden Mountain Cluster in Virginia
LocationBland, Tazewell,
Smyth Counties
Virginia, United States
Nearest townTazewell, Virginia
Coordinates37°6′27″N 81°20′28″W / 37.10750°N 81.34111°W / 37.10750; -81.34111Coordinates: 37°6′27″N 81°20′28″W / 37.10750°N 81.34111°W / 37.10750; -81.34111
AdministratorU.S. Forest Service

The Garden Mountain Cluster is a region in the Jefferson National Forest recognized by The Wilderness Society for its diversity of habitats extending along the east, south and west of Burke's Garden. The cluster, part of the Appalachian Mountains in southwest Virginia, connects wildlands in the high country of Garden Mountain and adjacent streams and ridges in one of the most remote areas of Virginia.[1][2]

Description[edit]

The Garden Mountain Cluster contains seven wildlands with different degrees of protection: wilderness areas, a study area and two areas recognized by the Wilderness Society as "Mountain Treasures", areas that are worthy of protection from logging and road construction.[1]

The areas in the cluster are:

Location and access[edit]

Panorama of Burkes Garden - panoramio.jpg
Panorama view of Burke's Garden

The cluster extends around the western, southern and eastern sides of Burke's Garden. VA 16, on the southern side, and VA 42, on the eastern side, intersect with roads leading into the cluster. Access from Burke's Garden is somewhat restricted because of the steep rise of the slopes around the bowl forming the garden.

The Appalachian Trail passes through the full length of the cluster for 26.6 miles. From north to south, the trail crosses Va 615, Suiter Road, to enter the cluster at Hunting Camp Creek Wilderness. The trail climbs Brushy Mountain, then descends to cross Hunting Camp Creek, passes by Jenkins Shelter, climbs Garden Mountain, continues along the ridge of Garden Mountain with views of Burke’s Garden, passes by Davis Farm Campsite, and crosses Va 623. The trail then enters Garden Mountain Wilderness continuing along the ridge of Garden Mountain. After leaving Garden Mountain Wilderness, the trail passes by Chestnut Ridge Shelter, goes along the boundary of Beartown Wilderness then turns south, descends through Beartown Wilderness Addition B, crosses USFS road 222, Poor Valley Road, to reach Lick Creek. Now the trail enters Lynn Camp Creek Wilderness Study Area, crosses over Lynn Camp Mountain reaching Lynn Camp Creek, then ascends Brushy Mountain passing Knot Maul Branch Shelter before descending to VA 42 to exit the cluster at the boundary of the wilderness study area.[3]

Roads and trails in the cluster are shown on National Geographic Map 787 (Blacksburg, New River Valley).[4] A great variety of information, including topographic maps, aerial views, satellite data and weather information, is obtained by selecting the link with the wild land's coordinates in the upper right of this page.

Biological significance[edit]

Hellbender, Cryptobranchus alleganiensis

The land form, climate, soils and geology of the Appalachian highlands, as well as its evolutionary history, have created one of the most diverse collection of plants and animals in the deciduous forests of the temperate world. The cluster's large tract of land supports species, such as black bear and some bird species, that require extensive tracts of unbroken forest for survival.[5]

The cluster provides habitat and watershed for species that are critically imperiled (G1), imperiled (G2) or vulnerable (G3), as indicated by their NatureServe conservation status. The Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Natural Heritage Program gives a list of these species for the counties included in the cluster, Bland, Smyth and Wythe. Among these are:[6][7]

Animals[edit]

  • Diplura (diplurans)

Plants[edit]

Natural communities[edit]

Plant communities include:

Geologic history[edit]

The cluster is in the Ridge and Valley Province that extends along the western boundary of Virginia. The Ridge and Valley Province is composed of long, relatively level-crested, ridges with highest elevations reaching over 3,600 feet (1,100 m). The province marks the eastern boundary in the Paleozoic era of an older land surface on the east. It was uplifted and eroded during the Paleozoic with extensive folding and thrust-faulting. Resistant quartzite, conglomerates and sandstones form the ridge caps while less resistant shales and limestones eroded to form the intervening valleys.[5][122]:60 The province is part of the Appalachian Mountains.

Garden Mountain extends from Abingdon to the New River, where the ridge of Garden Mountain continues across the river but is now named Sinking Creek Mountain.[123] The mountain completely surrounds Burkes Garden, an unusual geologic formation. From above Burke's Garden looks like the remnant of a volcano or a large lake. It is about 10 miles long and 5 miles wide (16 × 8 km). Called the Great Swamp by native Americans, it was probably too wet for crops. There are several proposals about its creation. One claims the valley was a lake drained by a creek, Burke's Garden Creek, flowing through the gap on the western edge. Another claims it was a 6,500-foot (2,000 m) dome formed by a sandstone cap. Eroded by water, the cap cracked forming a flat valley below.[124]

The Tennessee Valley Divide passes through the cluster along the southern rim of Burke's Garden, dividing the drainage for the Tennessee River and the New River. Roaring Fork, Lick Creek and Lynn Camp Creek, on the southwest, flow into the North Holston River which then flows into the Tennessee. Hunting Camp Creek, on the northeast, is part of the New River drainage. Both the New River and Tennessee River flow into the Ohio River.[4][125]

Cultural history[edit]

Burke's Garden

According to legend, Burke's Garden was discovered in about 1748 by James Burk while chasing a wounded elk. After eating some potatoes, he covered the peelings with dirt in order to hide his presence from Indians. Later explorers, finding a large patch of potatoes that had sprouted from the peelings, named the place as "Burk's Garden". The "e" on the end of the name was added at a later time. The area was settled by German Lutherans who were so attached to the area that they refused to sell their land to George Vanderbilt. Vanderbilt, looking for a place to build a home, moved to North Carolina where he built the largest private home in America, the Biltmore Estate.[124]

Tazewell, Virginia

Tazewell, the largest town near the cluster and the seat of Tazewell County, has served as the financial center for the agricultural and coal mining interests in the region. Evidence of prosperity is given by the large homes built on several hills. The town was incorporated in 1866. The county was named for Henry Tazewell, who served from 1794 to 1799 as a United States senator.[126]

Other clusters[edit]

Other clusters of the Wilderness Society's "Mountain Treasures" in the Jefferson National Forest (north to south):

Gallery[edit]

Animals[edit]

Plants[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Parsons, Shireen (May 1999). Virginia's Mountain Treasures, The Unprotected Wildlands of the Jefferson National Forest. Washington, D. C.: The Wilderness Society, OCLC: 42806366. p. 44.
  2. ^ Bamford, Sherman (February 2013). A Review of the Virginia Mountain Treasures of the Jefferson National Forest. Blacksburg, Virginia: Sierra Club, OCLC: 893635467. p. 59.
  3. ^ Appalachian Trail Guide, Southwest Virginia (6th ed.). Harpers Ferry: Appalachian Trail Conservancy. 2015. pp. 63–79. ISBN 978-1-889386-93-5.
  4. ^ a b Trails Illustrated Maps (2011). Blacksburg, New River Valley (Trails Illustrated Hiking Maps, 787). Washington, D. C.: National Geographic Society.
  5. ^ a b Stephenson, Steven L.; Ash, Andrew N.; Stauffer, Dean F. (1993). Appalachian Oak Forests, Chapter 6 in Biodiversity of the Southeastern United States, Upland Terrestrial Communities edited by Martin, Boyce and Echternacht. New York, NY: John Wiley and Sons. pp. 255–264. ISBN 0-471-58594-7.
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Further reading[edit]

  • Stephenson, Steven L., A Natural History of the Central Appalachians, 2013, West Virginia University Press, West Virginia, ISBN 978-1933202-68-6.
  • Davis, Donald Edward, Where There Are Mountains, An Environmental History of the Southern Appalachians, 2000, University of Georgia Press, Athens, Georgia. ISBN 0-8203-2125-7.

External links[edit]