Blue Ridge Country July/August 2020 - 29

R

ivers provide drinking water
to 10 million people in the
Southeast, and make this one
of the most biologically diverse regions on Earth," says
Gail Lazaras, associate director
of Rivers of Southern Appalachia and the Carolinas at American Rivers. "Rivers are the lifeblood of our economy...and connectors of people through
time and across space."
Let's explore 13 of our favorites!

New River

DIGITAL RELATIVITY FOR BRIDGE DAY

West Virginia's section of the New River
hosts Bridge Day in the fall.

Factoid: One drop of water would theoretically take 110 days to travel from the
New's origin to its final destination in the
Gulf of Mexico.
Challenges: Reclamation of mining
sites is ongoing, and development continues to pressure wild areas. Air and water
pollutants due to human activity are increasing.
Get Involved:
* New River Conservancy (newriverconservancy.org):"Protecting the waters,
woodlands and wildlife of the New River
Watershed."
* Friends of New River Gorge National
River (friendsofnewriver.org): "[We] strive
to preserve, restore [and] enhance the natural beauty, features, ecological systems,
cultural and historical heritage."

Despite the name, this river is one of the
oldest on the planet. It's even thought to
be more ancient than the Appalachian
Mountains upon which it meanders. Unlike most rivers which plot their courses
at lower elevations, this one runs on the
crests and mountaintop basins. Its cuts James River
and curves have exposed rocks dating Flowing west to east from the mountains
back over one billion years, while the riv- to the sea, this river cuts its path entirely
er itself is thought to be between 10 mil- within the state of Virginia. As a witness
lion and 360 million years
to and backdrop for signifiold.
cant events, the James River
Description: Spilling from
has welcomed human travTHERE'S MORE
headwaters in North Caroelers, hunters and settlers
ONLINE
Please go to
lina, The New flows northfor 15,000 years.
BlueRidgeCountry.
ward for 320 miles through
Description: Over 15,000
com/Rivers for more
Virginia into West Virginia.
miles
of tributary streams
information on each
The complex swirling waters
feed
this
340-mile river. With
river and river views
from two experts.
fall 900 feet in elevation over
headwaters in the mounthe distance and wander
tains of Alleghany County,
about in sharp bends and
its course to the Chesapeake
steep gorges. With miles of untouched Bay positively impacts over 3 million
waters, it is a designated Wild and Scenic Virginians across the 10,000-square-mile
River with 53 miles set aside as the New James River watershed.
River Gorge National River. Crossing this
What to do: Fishing, tubing, swimming
challenging landscape is the longest steel and camping are all favorites along the
span bridge in the western hemisphere.
river. Canoeing and float trips are easily
What to do: For the "best" views and accessed via many launch points along
interpretive information, visit the over- the route.
look at Canyon Rim Visitor Center (West
Find dramatic views and walk a piece
Virginia). Former mining communities of the Appalachian Trail in the nine-mile
along the Gorge are now explorable ghost long, 2,433-feet deep gorge of the same
towns.
name.
Once per year, the New River Gorge
Explore the scenic and undeveloped
Bridge hosts pedestrians at the largest ex- Upper James River section with a river outtreme sports festival in the world-BASE fitter's guidance; and cross the waters on
jumping into the abyss included!
foot at the 170-year-old historic Buchanan
Nature preserves, as well as state and Swinging Bridge.
national parks all along the river, offer
Factoid: An ingenious creation called
camping, hiking, rock climbing and fish- the James River Batteau allowed goods to
ing. The Gorge is popular for whitewater be transported through the shoals and raprafting and kayaking.
ids throughout the early settlement days.

JULY/AUGUST 2020

29



Blue Ridge Country July/August 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Blue Ridge Country July/August 2020

Blue Ridge Country July/August 2020 - Intro
Blue Ridge Country July/August 2020 - Cover1
Blue Ridge Country July/August 2020 - Cover2
Blue Ridge Country July/August 2020 - 3
Blue Ridge Country July/August 2020 - 4
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Blue Ridge Country July/August 2020 - Cover3
Blue Ridge Country July/August 2020 - Cover4
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