The Potomac River is located within the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States and flows from the Potomac Highlands into the Chesapeake Bay. The river is 405 miles long, with a drainage area of about 14,700 square miles. In terms of area, this makes the Potomac River the fourth largest river along the Atlantic coast of the United States and the 21st largest in the United States. Over 5 million people live within the Potomac watershed; the river forms part of the borders between Maryland and Washington, D. C. on the left descending bank and West Virginia and Virginia on the river's right descending bank. The majority of the lower Potomac River is part of Maryland. Exceptions include a small tidal portion within the District of Columbia, the border with Virginia being delineated from "point to point". Except for a small portion of its headwaters in West Virginia, the North Branch Potomac River is considered part of Maryland to the low water mark on the opposite bank; the South Branch Potomac River lies within the state of West Virginia except for its headwaters, which lie in Virginia.
The Potomac River runs 405 miles from Fairfax Stone Historical Monument State Park in West Virginia on the Allegheny Plateau to Point Lookout and drains 14,679 square miles. The length of the river from the junction of its North and South Branches to Point Lookout is 302 miles; the average daily flow during the water years 1931-2018 was 11,498 cubic feet /s. The highest average daily flow recorded on the Potomac at Little Falls, was in March 1936 when it reached 426,000 cubic feet /s; the lowest average daily flow recorded at the same location was 601.0 cubic feet /s in September 1966 The highest crest of the Potomac registered at Little Falls was 28.10 ft, on March 19, 1936. The river has two sources; the source of the North Branch is at the Fairfax Stone located at the junction of Grant and Preston counties in West Virginia. The source of the South Branch is located near Hightown in northern Highland Virginia; the river's two branches converge just east of Green Spring in Hampshire County, West Virginia, to form the Potomac.
As it flows from its headwaters down to the Chesapeake Bay, the Potomac traverses five geological provinces: the Appalachian Plateau, the Ridge and Valley, the Blue Ridge, the Piedmont Plateau, the Atlantic coastal plain. Once the Potomac drops from the Piedmont to the Coastal Plain at the Atlantic Seaboard fall line at Little Falls, tides further influence the river as it passes through Washington, D. C. and beyond. Salinity in the Potomac River Estuary increases thereafter with distance downstream; the estuary widens, reaching 11 statute miles wide at its mouth, between Point Lookout and Smith Point, before flowing into the Chesapeake Bay. "Potomac" is a European spelling of Patawomeck, the Algonquian name of a Native American village on its southern bank. Native Americans had different names for different parts of the river, calling the river above Great Falls Cohongarooton, meaning "honking geese" and "Patawomke" below the Falls, meaning "river of swans"; the spelling of the name has taken many forms over the years from "Patawomeck" to "Patomake", "Patowmack", numerous other variations in the 18th century and now "Potomac".
The river's name was decided upon as "Potomac" by the Board on Geographic Names in 1931. The river itself is at least 3.5 million years old extending back ten to twenty million years before present when the Atlantic Ocean lowered and exposed coastal sediments along the fall line. This included the area at Great Falls, which eroded into its present form during recent glaciation periods; the Potomac River brings together a variety of cultures throughout the watershed from the coal miners of upstream West Virginia to the urban residents of the nation's capital and, along the lower Potomac, the watermen of Virginia's Northern Neck. Being situated in an area rich in American history and American heritage has led to the Potomac being nicknamed "the Nation's River." George Washington, the first President of the United States, was born in, spent most of his life within, the Potomac basin. All of Washington, D. C. the nation's capital city lies within the watershed. The 1859 siege of Harper's Ferry at the river's confluence with the Shenandoah was a precursor to numerous epic battles of the American Civil War in and around the Potomac and its tributaries, such as the 1861 Battle of Ball's Bluff and the 1862 Battle of Shepherdstown.
General Robert E. Lee crossed the river, thereby invading the North and threatening Washington, D. C. twice in campaigns climaxing in the battles of Antietam and Gettysburg. Confederate General Jubal Early crossed the river in July 1864 on his attempted raid on the nation's capital; the river not only divided the Union from the Confederacy, but gave name to the Union's largest army, the Army of the Potomac. The Patowmack Canal was intended by George Washington to connect the Tidewater region near Georgetown with Cumberland, Maryland. Started in 1785 on the Virginia side of the river, it was not completed until 1802. Financial troubles led to the closure of the canal in 1830; the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal operated along the banks of the Potomac in Maryland from 1831 to 1924 and connected Cumberland to Washington, D. C; this allowed freight to be transported around the rapids known as the
Virginia the Commonwealth of Virginia, is a state in the Southeastern and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States located between the Atlantic Coast and the Appalachian Mountains. Virginia is nicknamed the "Old Dominion" due to its status as the first English colonial possession established in mainland North America and "Mother of Presidents" because eight U. S. presidents were born there, more than any other state. The geography and climate of the Commonwealth are shaped by the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Chesapeake Bay, which provide habitat for much of its flora and fauna; the capital of the Commonwealth is Richmond. The Commonwealth's estimated population as of 2018 is over 8.5 million. The area's history begins with several indigenous groups, including the Powhatan. In 1607 the London Company established the Colony of Virginia as the first permanent New World English colony. Slave labor and the land acquired from displaced Native American tribes each played a significant role in the colony's early politics and plantation economy.
Virginia was one of the 13 Colonies in the American Revolution. In the American Civil War, Virginia's Secession Convention resolved to join the Confederacy, Virginia's First Wheeling Convention resolved to remain in the Union. Although the Commonwealth was under one-party rule for nearly a century following Reconstruction, both major national parties are competitive in modern Virginia; the Virginia General Assembly is the oldest continuous law-making body in the New World. The state government was ranked most effective by the Pew Center on the States in both 2005 and 2008, it is unique in how it treats cities and counties manages local roads, prohibits its governors from serving consecutive terms. Virginia's economy has many sectors: agriculture in the Shenandoah Valley. S. Department of Defense and Central Intelligence Agency. Virginia has a total area of 42,774.2 square miles, including 3,180.13 square miles of water, making it the 35th-largest state by area. Virginia is bordered by Maryland and Washington, D.
C. to the north and east. Virginia's boundary with Maryland and Washington, D. C. extends to the low-water mark of the south shore of the Potomac River. The southern border is defined as the 36° 30′ parallel north, though surveyor error led to deviations of as much as three arcminutes; the border with Tennessee was not settled until 1893, when their dispute was brought to the U. S. Supreme Court; the Chesapeake Bay separates the contiguous portion of the Commonwealth from the two-county peninsula of Virginia's Eastern Shore. The bay was formed from the drowned river valleys of the James River. Many of Virginia's rivers flow into the Chesapeake Bay, including the Potomac, Rappahannock and James, which create three peninsulas in the bay; the Tidewater is a coastal plain between the fall line. It includes major estuaries of Chesapeake Bay; the Piedmont is a series of sedimentary and igneous rock-based foothills east of the mountains which were formed in the Mesozoic era. The region, known for its heavy clay soil, includes the Southwest Mountains around Charlottesville.
The Blue Ridge Mountains are a physiographic province of the Appalachian Mountains with the highest points in the state, the tallest being Mount Rogers at 5,729 feet. The Ridge and Valley region includes the Great Appalachian Valley; the region includes Massanutten Mountain. The Cumberland Plateau and the Cumberland Mountains are in the southwest corner of Virginia, south of the Allegheny Plateau. In this region, rivers flow northwest, into the Ohio River basin; the Virginia Seismic Zone has not had a history of regular earthquake activity. Earthquakes are above 4.5 in magnitude, because Virginia is located away from the edges of the North American Plate. The largest earthquake, at an estimated 5.9 magnitude, was in 1897 near Blacksburg. A 5.8 magnitude earthquake struck central Virginia on August 2011, near Mineral. The earthquake was felt as far away as Toronto and Florida. 35 million years ago, a bolide impacted. The resulting Chesapeake Bay impact crater may explain what earthquakes and subsidence the region does experience.
Coal mining takes place in the three mountainous regions at 45 distinct coal beds near Mesozoic basins. Over 64 million tons of other non-fuel resources, such as slate, sand, or gravel, were mined in Virginia in 2018; the state's carbonate rock is filled with more than 4,000 caves, ten of which are open for tourism, including the popular Luray Caverns and Skyline Caverns. The climate of Virginia is humid subtropical and becomes warmer and more humid farther south and east. Seasonal extremes vary from average lows of 26 °F in January to average highs of 86 °F in July; the Atlantic Ocean has a strong effect on southeastern coastal areas of the state. Influenced by the Gulf Stream, coastal weather is subject to hurricanes, most pronouncedly near the mouth of Chesapeake Bay. In spite of its position adjacent to the Atlantic Ocean the coastal areas have a significant continental influence with quite large temperature differences between summ
Blue Ridge Mountains
The Blue Ridge Mountains are a physiographic province of the larger Appalachian Mountains range. The mountain range is located in the eastern United States, extends 550 miles southwest from southern Pennsylvania through Maryland, West Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia; this province consists of northern and southern physiographic regions, which divide near the Roanoke River gap. To the west of the Blue Ridge, between it and the bulk of the Appalachians, lies the Great Appalachian Valley, bordered on the west by the Ridge and Valley province of the Appalachian range; the Blue Ridge Mountains are noted for having a bluish color. Trees put the "blue" in Blue Ridge, from the isoprene released into the atmosphere, thereby contributing to the characteristic haze on the mountains and their distinctive color. Within the Blue Ridge province are two major national parks – the Shenandoah National Park in the northern section, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in the southern section – and eight national forests including George Washington and Jefferson National Forests, Cherokee National Forest, Pisgah National Forest, Nantahala National Forest and Chattahoochee National Forest.
The Blue Ridge contains the Blue Ridge Parkway, a 469-mile long scenic highway that connects the two parks and is located along the ridge crest-lines with the Appalachian Trail. Although the term "Blue Ridge" is sometimes applied to the eastern edge or front range of the Appalachian Mountains, the geological definition of the Blue Ridge province extends westward to the Ridge and Valley area, encompassing the Great Smoky Mountains, the Great Balsams, the Roans, the Blacks, the Brushy Mountains and other mountain ranges; the Blue Ridge extends as far north into Pennsylvania as South Mountain. While South Mountain dwindles to mere hills between Gettysburg and Harrisburg, the band of ancient rocks that form the core of the Blue Ridge continues northeast through the New Jersey and Hudson River highlands reaching The Berkshires of Massachusetts and the Green Mountains of Vermont; the Blue Ridge contains the highest mountains in eastern North America south of Baffin Island. About 125 peaks exceed 5,000 feet in elevation.
The highest peak in the Blue Ridge is Mt. Mitchell in North Carolina at 6,684 feet. There are 39 peaks in North Tennessee higher than 6,000 feet. Southern Sixers is a term used by peak baggers for this group of mountains; the Blue Ridge Parkway runs 469 miles along crests of the Southern Appalachians and links two national parks: Shenandoah and Great Smoky Mountains. In many places along the parkway, there are metamorphic rocks with folded bands of light-and dark-colored minerals, which sometimes look like the folds and swirls in a marble cake. Most of the rocks that form the Blue Ridge Mountains are ancient granitic charnockites, metamorphosed volcanic formations, sedimentary limestone. Recent studies completed by Richard Tollo, a professor and geologist at George Washington University, provide greater insight into the petrologic and geochronologic history of the Blue Ridge basement suites. Modern studies have found that the basement geology of the Blue Ridge is made of compositionally unique gneisses and granitoids, including orthopyroxene-bearing charockites.
Analysis of zircon minerals in the granite completed by John Aleinikoff at the U. S. Geological Survey has provided more detailed emplacement ages. Many of the features found in the Blue Ridge and documented by Tollo and others have confirmed that the rocks exhibit many similar features in other North American Grenville-age terranes; the lack of a calc-alkaline affinity and zircon ages less than 1,200 Ma suggest that the Blue Ridge is distinct from the Adirondacks, Green Mountains, the New York-New Jersey Highlands. The petrologic and geochronologic data suggest that the Blue Ridge basement is a composite orogenic crust, emplaced during several episodes from a crustal magma source. Field relationships further illustrate that rocks emplaced prior to 1,078–1,064 Ma preserve deformational features; those emplaced post-1,064 Ma have a massive texture and missed the main episode of Mesoproterozoic compression. The Blue Ridge Mountains began forming during the Silurian Period over 400 million years ago.
320 Mya, North America, Europe collided, pushing up the Blue Ridge. At the time of their emergence, the Blue Ridge were among the highest mountains in the world and reached heights comparable to the much younger Alps. Today, due to weathering and erosion over hundreds of millions of years, the highest peak in the range, Mount Mitchell in North Carolina, is only 6,684 feet high – still the highest peak east of the Rockies; the English who settled colonial Virginia in the early 17th century recorded that the native Powhatan name for the Blue Ridge was Quirank. At the foot of the Blue Ridge, various tribes including the Siouan Manahoacs, the Iroquois, the Shawnee hunted and fished. A German physician-explorer, John Lederer, first reached the crest of the Blue Ridge in 1669 and again the following year. At the Treaty of Albany negotiated by Lieutenant Governor Alexander Spotswood, of Virginia with the Iroquois between 1718 and 1722, the Iroquois ceded lands they had conquered south of the Potomac River and east of the Blue Ridge to the Virginia Colony.
This treaty made the Blue Ridge the new demarcation point between the areas and tribes subject to the Six Nati
Mount Weather Emergency Operations Center
The Mount Weather Emergency Operations Center is a civilian command facility in the U. S. Commonwealth of Virginia, used as the center of operations for the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Known as the High Point Special Facility, its preferred designation since 1991 is "SF."The facility is a major relocation site for the highest level of civilian and military officials in case of national disaster, playing a major role in continuity of government. Mount Weather is the location of a control station for the FEMA National Radio System, a high frequency radio system connecting most federal public safety agencies and the U. S. military with most of the states. FNARS allows the president to access the Emergency Alert System; the site was brought into the public eye by The Washington Post, when the government facility was mentioned while reporting on the December 1, 1974, crash into Mount Weather of TWA Flight 514, a Boeing 727 jetliner. Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains, access to the operations center is available via State Route 601 in Bluemont, Virginia.
The facility is located near Berryville, 48 miles west of Washington, D. C; the site was opened as a weather station in the late 1800s. It was used as a Civilian Public Service facility during World War II. At that time there were just two permanent buildings on the site: the administration/dormitory building, the laboratory; those buildings still stand, supplemented by many more modern buildings. The underground facility within Mount Weather, designated "Area B", was completed in 1959. FEMA established training facilities on the mountain's surface in 1979; the above-ground portion of the FEMA complex is at least 434 acres. This measurement includes a training area of unspecified size. Area B, the underground component, contains 600,000 square feet. According to a letter to the editor of The Washington Post, after the September 11 attacks, most of the congressional leadership was evacuated to Mount Weather by helicopter. Between 1979 and 1981, the National Gallery of Art developed a program to transport valuable paintings in its collection to Mount Weather via helicopter.
The success of the relocation would depend upon how far in advance warning of an attack was received. The first video of Mount Weather shot from the air to be broadcast on national TV was filmed by ABC News producer Bill Lichtenstein, was included in the 1983 20/20 segment "Nuclear Preparation: Can We Survive", featuring 20/20 correspondent Tom Jarriel. Lichtenstein flew over the Mount Weather facility with an ABC camera crew; the news magazine report included House Majority Leader Tip O'Neill and Representative Ed Markey, confirming that there were contingency plans for the relocation of the United States government in the event of a nuclear war or major disaster. Both Mount Weather and the now deactivated The Greenbrier were featured in the A&E documentary Bunkers; the documentary, first broadcast on October 23, 2001, features extensive interviews with engineers and political and intelligence analysts, providing rare insights into the secret installations. The documentary compared The Greenbrier and Mount Weather to Saddam Hussein's control bunker buried beneath Baghdad.
The documentary features interior video of The Greenbrier as well as the Baghdad bunker, which survived direct hits from seven Joint Direct Attack Munition bombs during the Battle of Baghdad in 2003. Author William Poundstone investigated Mount Weather in his 1989 book Bigger Secrets; the novel Seven Days in May mentions a facility called Mount Thunder, a reference to Mount Weather, but the road descriptions in the book make it quite clear that it is the same facility. It is referred to in the movie based on the book, filmed during the Kennedy Administration and released in 1964. Mount Weather has been the setting for several post-apocalyptic fictional works; these include the 2002 series finale of The X-Files, the 2008 remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still, the novel series The 100, CW’s TV series The 100 and Syfy’s TV series Z Nation. Mount Weather is mentioned in the novels One Year After and The Final Day, both by William R. Forstchen, it is mentioned in the movie "Thirteen Days" by Steven Culp.
Military Auxiliary Radio System Olney Federal Support Center Raven Rock Mountain Complex Warrenton Training Center Emerson, Steven. "America's Doomsday Project". U. S. News & World Report: 26–31. Garrett M. Graff. Raven Rock: The Story of the U. S. Government’s Secret Plan to Save Itself. Simon & Schuster. ———. "The Doomsday Blueprints". Time: 32–39. 1962 Mount Weather Operating Documents FEMA page on its Mt. Weather operations as saved by the Internet Archive Wayback Machine on March 30, 2005 1956 FBI memo concerning a "Plan C" emergency readiness exercise involving the High Point Communications Center
The Alleghanian orogeny or Appalachian orogeny is one of the geological mountain-forming events that formed the Appalachian Mountains and Allegheny Mountains. The term and spelling Alleghany orogeny was proposed by H. P. Woodward in 1957; the Alleghanian orogeny occurred 325 million to 260 million years ago over at least five deformation events in the Carboniferous to Permian period. The orogeny was caused by Africa colliding with North America. At the time, these continents did not exist in their current forms: North America was part of the Euramerica super-continent, while Africa was part of Gondwana; this collision formed the super-continent Pangaea, which contained all major continental land masses. The collision provoked the orogeny: it exerted massive stress on what is today the Eastern Seaboard of North America, forming a wide and high mountain chain. Evidence for the Alleghanian orogeny stretches for many hundreds of miles on the surface from Alabama to New Jersey and can be traced further subsurface to the southwest.
In the north, the Alleghanian deformation extends northeast to Newfoundland. Subsequent erosion wore down the mountain chain and spread sediments both to the east and to the west; the immense region involved in the continental collision, the vast temporal length of the orogeny and the thickness of the pile of sediments and igneous rocks known to have been involved are evidence that at the peak of the mountain-building process, the Appalachians once reached elevations similar to those of the Alps and the Rocky Mountains before they were eroded. As the continents collided, the rock material trapped in-between was forced upward. With nowhere to go, rocks along the eastern margin of the North American continent were shoved far inland. Close to the boundary between the colliding plates, tectonic stresses contributed to the metamorphism of the rock; the sedimentary rock in the eastern Appalachian Basin region was squeezed into great folds that ran perpendicular to the direction of forces. The greatest amount of deformation associated with the Alleghanian orogeny occurred in the Southern Appalachians.
In that region, a series of great faults developed in addition to the folds. As the two continents collided, large belts of rock bounded by thrust faults piled one on top of another, shortening the crust along the eastern edge of North America in the North Carolina and Tennessee region by as much as 200 miles; the relative amount of deformation diminishes as one travels northward. The fold belt extends northward through Pennsylvania and fades in the vicinity of the New York border; the Kittatinny Mountains in northwestern New Jersey mark the Northeastern-most extension of the high ridges of the Valley and Ridge Province. The influence of Alleghanian deformation on the regions east of the Valley and Ridge Province must have been more intense. Rocks of Mississippian and Permian age are missing along the Eastern Seaboard; the mountains formed by the Alleghanian orogeny were once rugged and high, but in our time are now eroded into only a small remnant: the heavily-eroded hills of the Piedmont. Sediments that were carried eastward formed the coastal part of the continental shelf.
Thus, the coastal plain and Piedmont are the byproducts of erosion that took place from 150+ million years ago to the present. Sediments that were carried westward formed the Allegheny and Cumberland Plateau, which in some areas are popularly called mountains, but are simply uplifted and eroded plateaus. A portion of the Alleghanian mountain system departed with Africa when Pangaea broke up and the Atlantic Ocean began to form. Today, this forms the Anti-Atlas mountains of Morocco; the Anti-Atlas have been geologically uplifted in recent times, are today much more rugged than their Alleghanian relatives. Geology of the Appalachians Central Pangean Mountains Mauritanide Belt Inliers and outliers
Maryland is a state in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States, bordering Virginia, West Virginia, the District of Columbia to its south and west. The state's largest city is Baltimore, its capital is Annapolis. Among its occasional nicknames are Old Line State, the Free State, the Chesapeake Bay State, it is named after the English queen Henrietta Maria, known in England as Queen Mary. Sixteen of Maryland's twenty-three counties border the tidal waters of the Chesapeake Bay estuary and its many tributaries, which combined total more than 4,000 miles of shoreline. Although one of the smallest states in the U. S. it features a variety of climates and topographical features that have earned it the moniker of America in Miniature. In a similar vein, Maryland's geography and history combines elements of the Mid-Atlantic and South Atlantic regions of the country. One of the original Thirteen Colonies of Great Britain, Maryland was founded by George Calvert, a Catholic convert who sought to provide a religious haven for Catholics persecuted in England.
In 1632, Charles I of England granted Calvert a colonial charter, naming the colony after his wife, Queen Mary. Unlike the Pilgrims and Puritans, who enforced religious conformity in their settlements, Calvert envisioned a colony where people of different religious sects would coexist under the principle of toleration. Accordingly, in 1649 the Maryland General Assembly passed an Act Concerning Religion, which enshrined this principle by penalizing anyone who "reproached" a fellow Marylander based on religious affiliation. Religious strife was common in the early years, Catholics remained a minority, albeit in greater numbers than in any other English colony. Maryland's early settlements and population centers clustered around rivers and other waterways that empty into the Chesapeake Bay, its economy was plantation-based, centered on the cultivation of tobacco. The need for cheap labor led to a rapid expansion of indentured servants, penal labor, African slaves. In 1760, Maryland's current boundaries took form following the settlement of a long-running border dispute with Pennsylvania.
Maryland was an active participant in the events leading up to the American Revolution, by 1776 its delegates signed the Declaration of Independence. Many of its citizens subsequently played key military roles in the war. In 1790, the state ceded land for the establishment of the U. S. capital of Washington, D. C. Although a slave state, Maryland remained in the Union during the U. S. Civil War, its strategic location giving it a significant role in the conflict. After the war, Maryland took part in the Industrial Revolution, driven by its seaports, railroad networks, mass immigration from Europe. Since the Second World War, the state's population has grown to six million residents, it is among the most densely populated states in the nation; as of 2015, Maryland had the highest median household income of any state, owing in large part to its close proximity to Washington, D. C. and a diversified economy spanning manufacturing, higher education, biotechnology. Maryland has been ranked as one of the best governed states in the country.
The state's central role in American history is reflected by its hosting of some of the highest numbers of historic landmarks per capita. Maryland is comparable in overall area with Belgium, it is the 42nd largest and 9th smallest state and is closest in size to the state of Hawaii, the next smaller state. The next larger state, its neighbor West Virginia, is twice the size of Maryland. Maryland possesses a variety of topography within its borders, contributing to its nickname America in Miniature, it ranges from sandy dunes dotted with seagrass in the east, to low marshlands teeming with wildlife and large bald cypress near the Chesapeake Bay, to rolling hills of oak forests in the Piedmont Region, pine groves in the Maryland mountains to the west. Maryland is bounded on its north by Pennsylvania, on its west by West Virginia, on its east by Delaware and the Atlantic Ocean, on its south, across the Potomac River, by West Virginia and Virginia; the mid-portion of this border is interrupted by District of Columbia, which sits on land, part of Montgomery and Prince George's counties and including the town of Georgetown, Maryland.
This land was ceded to the United States Federal Government in 1790 to form the District of Columbia.. The Chesapeake Bay nearly bisects the state and the counties east of the bay are known collectively as the Eastern Shore. Most of the state's waterways are part of the Chesapeake Bay watershed, with the exceptions of a tiny portion of extreme western Garrett County, the eastern half of Worcester County, a small portion of the state's northeast corner. So prominent is the Chesapeake in Maryland's geography and economic life that there has been periodic agitation to change the state's official nickname to the "Bay State", a nickname, used by Massachusetts for decades; the highest point in Maryland, with an elevation of 3,360 feet, is Hoye Crest on Backbone Mountain, in the southwest corner of Garrett County, near the bo
The Appalachian National Scenic Trail known as the Appalachian Trail or the A. T. is a marked hiking trail in the Eastern United States extending between Springer Mountain in Georgia and Mount Katahdin in Maine. The trail is about 2,200 miles long, though the exact length changes over time as parts are modified or rerouted; the Appalachian Trail Conservancy describes the Appalachian Trail as the longest hiking-only trail in the world. More than 2 million people are said to take a hike on part of the trail at least once each year; the idea of the Appalachian Trail came about in 1921. The trail itself was completed in 1937 after more than a decade of work, although improvements and changes continue, it is maintained by 31 trail clubs and multiple partnerships, managed by the National Park Service, United States Forest Service, the nonprofit Appalachian Trail Conservancy. Most of the trail is in forest or wild lands, although some portions traverse towns and farms, it passes through 14 states: Georgia, North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine.
Thru-hikers attempt to hike the trail in its entirety in a single season. The number of thru-hikes per year has increased with 715 northbound and 133 southbound thru-hikes reported for 2017. Many books, documentaries and fan organizations are dedicated to the pursuit; some hike from one end to the other turn around and thru-hike the trail the other way, known as a "yo-yo". An extension known as the International Appalachian Trail continues northeast, crossing Maine and cutting through Canada to Newfoundland, with sections continuing in Greenland, through Europe, into Morocco. Other separate extensions continue the southern end of the Appalachian range in Alabama and continue south into Florida, creating what is known as the Eastern Continental Trail; the Appalachian Trail, the Continental Divide Trail, the Pacific Crest Trail form what is known as the Triple Crown of Hiking in the United States. The trail was conceived by Benton MacKaye, a forester who wrote his original plan—called "An Appalachian Trail, A Project in Regional Planning"—shortly after the death of his wife in 1921.
MacKaye's idea detailed a grand trail that would connect a series of farms and wilderness work/study camps for city-dwellers. In 1922, at the suggestion of Major William A. Welch, director of the Palisades Interstate Park Commission, his idea was publicized by Raymond H. Torrey with a story in the New York Evening Post under a full-page banner headline reading "A Great Trail from Maine to Georgia!" The idea was adopted by the new Palisades Interstate Park Trail Conference as their main project. On October 7, 1923, the first section of the trail, from Bear Mountain west through Harriman State Park to Arden, New York, was opened. MacKaye called for a two-day Appalachian Trail conference to be held in March 1925 in Washington, D. C; this meeting inspired the formation of the Appalachian Trail Conference. A retired judge named Arthur Perkins and his younger associate Myron Avery took up the cause. In 1929, a member of the Connecticut Forest and Park Association and its Blue Blazed Trails committee, found Ned Anderson, a farmer in Sherman, who took on the task of mapping and blazing the Connecticut leg of the trail.
It ran from Dog Tail Corners in Webatuck, New York, which borders Kent, Connecticut, at Ashley Falls, 50 miles through the northwest corner of the state, up to Bear Mountain at the Massachusetts border. Anderson's efforts helped spark renewed interest in the trail, Avery was able to bring other states on board. Upon taking over the ATC, Avery adopted the more practical goal of building a simple hiking trail, he and MacKaye clashed over the ATC's response to a major commercial development along the trail's path. Avery reigned as Chairman of the ATC from 1932 to 1952. Avery became the first to walk the trail end-to-end, though not as a thru-hike, in 1936. In August 1937, the trail was completed to Sugarloaf Mountain in Maine, the ATC shifted its focus toward protecting the trail lands and mapping the trail for hikers. Many of the trail's present highlights were not part of the trail in 1937: Roan Mountain, North Carolina and Tennessee. Except for places where the Civilian Conservation Corps was brought in, the original trail climbed straight up and down mountains, creating rough hiking conditions and a treadway prone to severe erosion.
The ATC's trail crews and volunteer trail-maintaining clubs have relocated or rehabilitated miles of trail since that time. In 1936, a 121-day Maine to Georgia veteran's group funded and supported thru-hike was reported to have been completed, with all but three miles of the new trail cleared and blazed, by six Boy Scouts from New York City and their guides; the completed thru-hike was much recorded and accepted by the Appalachian Long Distance Hikers Association. In 1938, the trail sustained major damage from a hurricane; this happened right before the start of World War II