Monday, January 31, 2011

Pilot Mountain, North Carolina

Another Saturday and this means another day trip with Travel Buddy. And we were so fortunate this Saturday to have perfect weather – bright sun and warmth!

We decided to do a big (really big! 180 miles round trip) up to Mount Airy, down to Mocksville and then back home so that we could stop at some places highlighted by Catherine Bisher’s guide to historic buildings in the Piedmont.

Going to Mount Airy (home of Andy Griffith and the basis for the town of Mayberry in his eponymous TV show) means driving north on US Highway 52. I pulled over at an outlook to take snapshots of Pilot Mountain that is the source for Mount Pilot mentioned in The Andy Griffith Show.

Looking North Along US Hwy 52 Towards Pilot Mountain

Pilot Mountain is a remnant of the ancient Sauratown Mountains which millions of years ago stood higher than Mt. Everest does now. This is a quartzite monadnock, the definition of which is an isolated small mountain that rises abruptly from a gently sloping or virtually level surrounding plain.

Pilot Mountain is actually two prominent pinnacles. Big Pinnacle, with walls of bare rock and a rounded top covered by vegetation, rises 1,400 feet above the valley floor with the knob rising more than 200 feet from its base. Big Pinnacle is connected to Little Pinnacle by a narrow depression. The Big Pinnacle also has populations at its summit and base of a rare oak species known as Bear Oak, which is state-listed as threatened and is known only to grow in four locations in the state.

Big Pinnacle

To the native Saura Indians, the earliest known inhabitants of the region, Pilot Mountain was known as Jomeokee, the “Great Guide” or “Pilot.” It guided both Native Americans and early European hunters along a north-south path through the area. The Sauras were driven southward by the Cherokees, who subsequently occupied the area. Further settlement in the area was led by Moravians, but the population remained sparse during colonial times due to frontier turbulence created by an alliance between the Cherokees and the British.

The mountain was mapped in 1751 by Joshua Fry and Peter Jefferson, father of President Thomas Jefferson. Pilot Mountain became North Carolina's 14th state park in 1968.


rachel said...

Very interesting, thank you. I do like some facts with my virtual tourism!

moreidlethoughts said...

Yes, as Rachel says.
And that mountain! When I get home I'll dig out an old photo of a (much smaller) mountain where I lived. All our townsfolk called it the "hill with the Marc Neill haircut" after our local barber!
Hooray for sunny weather!

Carolina said...

I'm proud to have such an enormous, slightly weird looking mountain, in my Northern parts ;-)


Dartford Warbler said...

What a strange and unusual mountain. Thank you for an interesting post.
That was a long way for a day out!

Beence said...

Pilot Mountain! What a great name for a mountain, from my perspective any way. Especially since there is a plane called Piper Cherokee... ;-)

Anyes said...

How lucky that you and TB could wander further and show us more of your beautiful state :-)

Karen said...

Rachel: Glad you enjoyed the trip by Pilot Mountain. I think facts help to put it all into perspective.

Di: I think Australia leads the world in strange and beautiful landscapes. Yes, please post if you think about it.

Carolina: {Snort}

DW: As long as gas is cheap, I'll continue to take longish day trips and share them with you all.

Vince: And North Carolina is the home for the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Nation. Their hometown is a couple hours east of Asheville.

Anyes: And a long weekend trip to the beach is coming on Thursday, so more of North Carolina to come.