The Southwest Mountains, northern Albemarle County
|Elevation||1,573 feet (479 m)|
|Length||70 mi (110 km)|
|Width||3.5 mi (5.6 km)|
|Parent range||Appalachian Mountains|
The Southwest Mountains of Virginia are a mountain range centered on Charlottesville, parallel to and geologically associated with the Blue Ridge Mountains, which lie about 30 miles (50 km) to the west. Some of the more prominent peaks include Carters Mountains, Fan Mountain, Brush Mountain, Peters Mountain, Walton's Mountain, and Hightop Mountain.
The Southwest Mountains are not particularly large. They are one of the easternmost ranges in Virginia (along with the geologically associated Bull Run Mountains and Catoctin Mountain) and the viewshed for the Blue Ridge Mountains through Nelson and Albemarle Counties.
The range bisects Nelson, Albemarle, and Orange counties. A portion of the Southwest Mountains in Albemarle County has been designated a Rural Historic District by the National Park Service, though none of the range is designated as state or national parkland. Mineral resources of soapstone and vermiculite continue to be mined here.
The Southwest Mountains are underlain by a belt of Catoctin greenstone, which forms the eastern edge of the Blue Ridge anticlinorium. The Catoctin Greenstone belt extends north into Maryland and also supports the Bull Run and Catoctin Mountains. The basalt flows which were metamorphised to greenstone were deposited during the latest Precambrian age and first uplifted during Grenville Orogeny then again during the Alleghenian Orogeny, in which they were also transported westward to their present location.
History and culture
In its designation as a Virginia historical landmark, the Virginia Board of Historic Resources described the northern Albemarle portion of the Southwest Mountains as "some of the Piedmont's most pristine and scenic countryside." They went on:
Characterized by undulating pastures, winding roadways, forested hills, and small hamlets, the district contains a broad range of 18th-, 19th- and early 20th-century rural architecture, reflecting the evolving cultural patterns of more than 250 years of settlement.
"Let us, the inhabitants of the South-West Mountains, rejoice and be grateful that our benefits greatly preponderate over our ills. And so far as my testimony goes, resulting from actual observation of near one-third of the entire circumference of the earth, I feel no hesitation in declaring that I deem them the most desirable abode I have ever seen."
- Woodward; Hoffman (1991). "The physiographic provinces and subregions of Virginia." (JPEG). Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation. Retrieved 2008-10-20.
- "Ecological Communities of the Northern Virginia Blue Ridge" (PDF). Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage. 2003-10-04. Retrieved 2006-09-28.
[T]he area covered by this presentation is the physiographic northern Blue Ridge that stretches from Roanoke to Harpers Ferry. It also loosely includes the higher, western Piedmont monadnocks such as the Bull Run Mountains in northern Virginia and the Southwest Mountains east of Charlottesville. This is a more limited area than the geological Blue Ridge anticlinorium, which includes the entire physiographic western Piedmont.
- K. Edward Lay (2000). The Architecture of Jefferson Country. University of Virginia Press. p. 23. ISBN 978-0-8139-1885-3.
The first mountains encountered along its path from Richmond were the Chestnut or Southwest Mountains just east of modern Charlottesville.
- "Southwest Mountains Rural Historic District". National Park Service. Retrieved 2008-10-20.
- "Park Locations". Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation. Retrieved 2008-10-20.
- "National Park Guide". National Park Service. Retrieved 2008-10-20.
- "Project Pivotal-Rig". Virginia Tech.
Of the county's many rich mineral deposits, soapstone, sand, and aplite are at present of commercial importance. One of the county's largest manufactures [sic], Alberene Stone, produces locally-cut stone.
- Frye, Keith. Roadside Geology of Virginia.
- Loth, Calder (1999). The Virginia Landmarks Register. University of Virginia Press. p. 20. ISBN 978-0-8139-1862-4.
- Woods, Edgar (1901). Albemarle County in Virginia. The Michie Company.
- Duke, Jr., R.T.W. "Albemarle County and City of Charlottesville in War Time: A Community History". Retrieved 2009-03-04.
- "History of Keswick Area". Keswick Vineyards. Archived from the original on February 6, 2009.