The Blue Ridge Mountains
Gateway to the Blue Ridge Mountains
From extreme south-central Pennsylvania the Blue Ridge Mountains run to the south and west, including land that ranges from high peaks (such as the Shenandoahs) to rolling hills like those throughout much of the southwest portion of Virginia. In southern North Carolina this high eastern ridge turns west, and continues to Springer Mountain, in southern Fannin County, Georgia. While the Blue Ridge range does continue to the west it is at this point that both the Benton MacKaye and Appalachian Trail begin their northward trek along the ridges of the Appalachian Mountains.
West of the Blue Ridge range is a second series of mountains that runs from West Central North Carolina to Fannin County, Georgia. In Georgia, this range is known as the Cohuttas; further north they are called the Smoky Mountains. The Cohuttas and the Smokies are part of the Blue Ridge province, yet they are actually geologically distinct from the Blue Ridge Mountain Range and quite a bit older.
In Fannin County, Gateway to the Blue Ridge Mountains, the Cohuttas rise in the west and the Blue Ridge to the south and east. The Cherokee consided the Cohuttas to be the "poles of the shed," holding up the sky in this, their "Enchanted Land." Many Cherokees would farm in the Blue Ridge Mountains, leaving them during the winter and staying at the Cherokee village of Aska, or "winter home." These mountains also held wealth for the early settlers. Although agriculture was the major industry in the area, lumber and mining in both the Cohuttas and Blue Ridge Mountains contributed significant income to the north Georgia settlers. Once the lumber had been harvested the federal government bought the mountain land and created the Chattahoochee National Forest.
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