It is rare to be able to drive approximately two hours to be in the mountains or four hours to be at the beach while just in one state. There are three completely different climate zones within the state of North Carolina. In the book North Carolina Change and Tradition it states thatmuch of the eastern third of North Carolina remained underwater, but with the onset of the last ice age, some 10,000 years ago, the coastline extended 50 miles east of its present location. With the end of this ice age, the Atlantic Ocean pushed back to the west, filling the river valleys and forming the sounds of the eastern North Carolina. Knowing this will help one to understanding how North Carolinas coastal line developed along with the river valleys. Defining North Carolina is fairly simple considering it has three different regions, the Mountains, Piedmont, and the Coastal Plains, but all three are distinctly different and all very unique.
The mountainous region of North Carolina is smaller in area than the Piedmont and Coastal Plains, but has much more character. This region is filled with different scenery and waterfalls. The Blue Ridge Mountains is one of the many attractions that North Carolina offers. Every year during late October to the beginning of November the leaves will reach their peak of the season. The colors of the leaves are remarkable, and this creates a great opportunity for tourists.
Thousands of people travel each year to sight see the beautiful mountains of North Carolina, and the one that sticks out the most is Grandfather Mountain. Wind and ice erosion have shaped and carved this mountain into a very unique image of the side of a man’s face, which is how its name came about. One of the main attractions for Grandfather Mountain is its Mile High Swinging Bridge, which surprisingly lives up to its name. This bridge is exactly 5,280 feet above sea level (Lacey).
The Smokey Mountains’ highest mountain in North Carolina is Mount Mitchell, which stands at 6,684 feet above sea level. This mountain was named in honor of the late professor Elisha Mitchell. There was a dispute between Tennessee Senator Thomas Lanier Clingman and Professor Mitchell about which peak in the Appalachian Mountains was the highest. (Lacey 73) “Mitchell claimed Black Dome (Mount Mitchell) in North Carolina; Clingman said Tennessee’s Smokey Dome had that honor.” (Lacey 73)
In the book “Amazing North Carolina” tells a story of how the highest mountain on the eastern side of the U.S. received its name.
“While doing altitude checks of Black Dome (Mount Mitchell) Mitchell drowned in a stream. After this happening, geographer, Arnold Guyot made studies of the two mountains. Smoky Dome reached 6,643 feet, while Black Dome (now Mount Mitchell) won the contest, at 6,684 feet. This is the highest peak in the eastern United States” (Lacey 73).
It’s such a tragic story for Elisha Mitchell, but this helps one to understand how the highest mountains in the eastern part of the United States received its name. Lacey states that Mt. Mitchell is 6,684 feet tall, and that’s over a mile from sea level which is pretty incredible.
In the center of North Carolina is where the Piedmont is found, also known as the Heartland or Foothills (meaning foot of the mountain). This part of North Carolina is where the majority of inhabitants are found. Each year during the middle of October a State Fair is held in Raleigh near North Carolina State University (NCSU). Raleigh is an exciting city to visit and offers many different historical sites, museums, and old architectural structures in the downtown area (Pitzer).
The Piedmont is much larger than the other two regions, but it has much more to offer because of its large cities. “Old Salem Gardens are reputed to be the best documented, restored community gardens in America (Pitzer).” Forty miles southeast of Winston-Salem is Asheboro, where the Asheboro Zoo is located. This zoo was one of the first originally designed zoos to display the animal’s natural habitat as close as possible to its native environment (Pitzer).
Heading east of the Piedmont Region only takes approximately two to four hours to reach. North Carolinas Coastal Plains accounts for almost two-fifths of the state’s area which is a pretty moderate portion (Pitzer). This region allures many travelers to come learn about the history and beauty of the different lighthouses at the Outer Banks. Activities and entertainment are endless in this region. Some might go to visit where the first flight took place by the Wright Brothers in Kitty Hawk, Outer Banks. There is a memorial for these brothers, Wilbur and Orville, who taught themselves how to fly. It took them four years of experimentation to finally achieve their dream in 1903. This was the first flight that changed history forever (Wright Brothers National Memorial).
North Carolinas coast has been considered very dangerous because of all the different waterways and currents that are always changing. The Atlantic hurricane season begins June 1 through November 30th. Hurricane Arthur was one of the earliest to come in its season to the North Carolinas coast on July 1st. It was graded as only a category 2 hurricane on a 1-5 scale, with 1 being the weakest and 5 being the strongest. Category 2 means the winds would range from 96 to 110 mph winds. Arthur didn’t cause much damage to the coastal region because it lost strength moving toward Canada and turned into a tropical storm (The Weather Channel Hurricane Authur).
Most people who live in America aren’t fortunate enough to know the luxuries of living in a state that can provide mountains and beaches within approximately six hours of each other. The weather of North Carolina may seem unusual because of the three different regions. The mountainous region is higher in altitude; therefore, it is a lot cooler during the winter season. Then there’s the Piedmont, also known as the Foothills, where most of the big cities are found and the majority of the population has settled. Finally, the Coastal Plains are a warm and sunny place during the summer months for tourists come to vacation each year. Nothing in the world can compare to this fascinating state of North Carolina!
Link, William A. "European Invasion." North Carolina Change and Tradition in a Southern State. Wheeling, Illinois: Harlan Davidson, 2009. 4. Print.
Pitzer, Sara. Off the Beaten Path North Carolina: A Guide to Unique Places. 9th ed. Guilford, Conn.: GPP Travel, 2009. Print.
Lacey, Theresa Jensen. Amazing North Carolina: Fascinating Facts, Entertaining Tales, Bizarre Happenings, and Historical Oddities from the Tarheel State. Nashville, Tenn.: Rutledge Hill, 2003. P.73. Print.
"North Carolina Escapes Major Damage From Arthur; Businesses Hope to Salvage Holiday Weekend - Weather.com." The Weather Channel. Web. 24 Oct. 2014.
United States. National Park Service. "Wright Brothers National Memorial (U.S. National Park Service)." National Parks Service. U.S. Department of the Interior, 4 Dec. 2014. Web. 7 Dec. 2014.http://www.nps.gov/wrbr/index.htm