Grandfather Mountain

Grandfather Mountain

Infobox Mountain
Name = Grandfather Mountain
Photo = Grandfather Mountain.jpg
Caption =
Elevation = 5,964 feet (1,818 metres)
Range = Appalachian Mountains
Location = North Carolina, USA
Prominence = 2,444 feet (745 meters)
Coordinates = coord|36|06|54|N|81|51|43|W|type:mountain_region:US
USGS Grandfather Mountain
First ascent = | Easiest route = hike

Grandfather Mountain is a mountain near Linville, North Carolina. At 5,964 feet (1,818 meters), it is the highest peak on the eastern escarpment of the Blue Ridge Mountains, one of the major chains of the Appalachian Mountains. The Blue Ridge Parkway passes by the south side of the mountain.

Era of Private Ownership

Until 2008, Grandfather Mountain was privately owned and operated as a nature preserve and tourist attraction. It was and still is best known for its mile-high swinging bridge, the highest in America, built in 1952 by Hugh Morton and dedicated to William B. Umstead. The bridge links two of the mountain's rocky peaks, and is known as the "swinging" bridge due to its tendency to sway in high winds. Morton inherited the mountain from his father and developed the tourist attractions. He died on June 1, 2006 at the age of 85.

On Monday, September the 29th, 2008, North Carolina Governor Mike Easley announced that the state has agreed to [ purchase Grandfather Mountain, and 2,600 surrounding acres] from the Morton family for $12 million. The area will eventually be added to the North Carolina State Park system, becoming the 34th North Carolina state park.

Physical features

Grandfather Mountain rises more than 4,000 feet (1,219 meters) above the Catawba River Valley, and due to the considerable elevation gain the mountain boasts 16 distinct ecological communities. The mountain also has experienced some of the highest surface wind speeds ever recorded, with speeds in excess of 200 MPH. More recently, Grandfather Mountain has upgraded their wind equipment in order to help resolve controversy over these high wind recordings. Wind readings from the new equipment have been considerably less. [] (Mount Washington in New Hampshire holds the record for the highest surface wind speed, at 231 MPH.)

Two rivers originate at Grandfather Mountain, the Linville River, flowing east, and the Watauga River, which flows west. Many other streams also originate on the slopes of Grandfather.

On top of Grandfather Mountain, like many mountain peaks above 5000' in North Carolina, grows an "island" of spruce-fir forest. Though the forest was largely devastated during the 20th century by the introduction of the non-native balsam wooly adelgid, a remnant of this biome still exists on Grandfather Mountain.


One of North America's largest Highland Games, the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games, are held here each year, drawing in visitors from all over the world. The Highland Games celebrate the Scottish ancestry of many of the pioneers who settled around the mountain and feature traditional Scottish games and music. At one time, the Grandfather Mountain games was the largest such event in the United States, though in recent years it has been surpassed by the games in Pleasanton, California.

A paved road leads to one of mountain's several peaks, and there visitors will find a museum, the famous "mile-high swinging bridge", and views of up to 100 miles - on a clear day, it is possible to see the city skyline of Charlotte. On the road to the summit there are wildlife exhibits and picnic areas. Grandfather Mountain also offers miles of hiking trails that vary in skill levels. Some trails require climbing wooden ladders to reach higher peaks and offer scenic views.

Grandfather Mountain and its surrounding communities were served by the narrow gauge East Tennessee and Western North Carolina Railroad (The "ET&WNC", nicknamed "Tweetsie") until the flood of 1940. The railroad helped make the mountain a favorite vacation spot for excursionists during the early 20th century.

The scene in "Forrest Gump" where he runs on a curvy mountain road was filmed here.

Photo Gallery

External links

* [ Official Site]

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