The Appalachian Mountains are home to a wide range of cultures. The name itself came from the word Appalachee, from the Appalachee Indians. The Appalachee lived in northwest Florida from at least A.D. 1000. They existed on their agricultural knowledge and hunting. From Florida they migrated into Louisiana and Georgia.
The Cherokee and Shawnee Indians were in the area for more than a thousand years prior to people coming in from England, Scotland, Germany, Ireland, Wales, France, Italy, Holland, and Africa. This created some very diverse and multi-cultural regions.
The Appalachians were formed during a series of collisions and separations of tectonic plates that began 300 million years ago and continued through the Paleozoic and Mesozoic Eras. When the Appalachians were still forming, the continents were in different locations than they are today and North America and Europe had collided. The Appalachians were once an extension of the Caledonian mountain chain, a mountain chain that is today in Scotland and Scandinavia.
The Appalachian Mountain range is an ancient band of some of the most beautiful mountain areas in North America. The range stretches from the island of Newfoundland in southeastern Canada and extends 1,500 miles down in a south-westward direction to Central Alabama in the united States -- with portions of 200 to 300 miles wide. It is believed that during the Ordovician period, roughly 460 million years ago, the Appalachian Mountains stood as the highest mountains on earth. It is now the second largest mountain range in the United States.
The significant ranges of the Appalachians are the Cumberland Mountains in Tennessee, the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia, the Alleghenies in Pennsylvania, the Catskills Mountains in New York, the Green Mountains in Vermont, and the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Mt. Mitchell in North Carolina is 6,684 feet high, the highest point of the entire range.
The Appalachians form a barrier of east to west travel due to the ridges and valleys, which are in opposition to any road running east or west. Back in the days when Mary Draper Ingles escaped from the Shawnee, in 1755, there were no roads at all, only foot paths. Mary had to traverse on foot in the deeper forests and extremely rugged land to avoid detection. The last part of her over 800 mile journey on foot was the Appalachians which lay between her and home. Alone, starving, and barefoot, she scaled up and over Anvil Rock, an elevation of 1000 feet, to get to her home and husband.
The Appalachian Trail draws about four million people each year. It is about a 2,160 mile long hiking trail stretching from Springer Mountain in Georgia to Mount Katahdin in Maine. People love the short day hikes along the trail, or for the more vigorous, the long-distance backpacking hikes. Some even meet every year to hike the entire trail, which takes one season to do so. It can take up to five and seven months to hike from one end to the other when considering camping along the way. April 15 is the earliest most hikers will start this journey, to avoid severe weather conditions.
Many people become volunteers to help maintain the trail. You can check into this at the Appalachian Trail Conservancy site.
Being in the Appalachians, for many people, is an opportunity for adventure and spiritual renewal. For nature study, the Appalachian Trail is a wonderful place to hike. The terrain varies from heavily wooded areas to peaceful pastoral scenes. There is an abundance of wildlife and the plant life is very diverse.
The 'mountain folk' in the Appalachians are gems of Nature. The gems of the past come forth when we stop long enough to see and hear them. The love and support those folks gave to each other most definitely was a way of healing. What power, what a blessed gift they had. The Appalachians are full of magic, beauty, and spirituality.
An excellent tectonic overview was written by James Sandusky Aber, Professor of Geology of the Earth Science Department at Emporia State University, Emporia, Kansas. Professor Aber discusses the four main provinces of the mountain range, as well as the different tectonic activities that formed the plateaus, ridges, and valleys.
You can learn more about Professor Aber and his Geology course at