Mountains and rivers, two of nature’s most powerful forces, have dominated the East Tennessee River Valley for millions of years, sculpting the land and shaping the region’s culture and heritage.
This vast terrain of ridges and vales, known as the Appalachian Highlands, is made up of lush green mountains that slope to shady valleys and cold, clear trout streams. In these fertile lowlands, old timers still listen to the mountains to determine weather patterns and watch the moon for signs to plant and harvest.
The French Broad, Tennessee, and Holston Rivers, along with a half dozen other nearby rivers and streams, were part of the enormous erosional forces that cut ancient highland mountains down to size. East Tennessee mountaintops that millions of years ago were ocean floors have been weathered and rounded into narrow ridges and valleys.
Because this region hosts seven major Tennessee Valley Authority lakes that impound millions of acre-feet of water, East Tennessee is sometimes referred to as the “Great Lakes of the South.”
Throughout the four seasons, valleys and ridge tops explode in magnificent bursts of color, especially in autumn, when foliage blazes with brilliant oranges, reds and golds. Winter caps the peaks in crystalline snows, and from March through November, hundreds of varieties of wildflowers, Rhododendron and mountain laurel brighten valleys, ridges and roadsides.
In this great River Valley, nature has created a stunning aquatic diversity unmatched by any other comparable temperate zone on earth.
- Fred Brown
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