The Blowing Rock

Did you know that "North Carolina's Oldest Travel Attraction" is nestled between other, more well-known attractions? Perhaps you do because you've been here before. You may have visited without realizing the mysterious history of the location. "The only site in the world where snow falls upside down," according to Ripley's Believe It Or Not.


While the Blue Ridge Mountains' rocks were being driven up by immense pressures that steadily compressed the region's materials like a big vice, other natural processes of weathering and erosion began ripping away the newborn mountains. After more than 250 million years, mountain formation has ceased, and erosion has progressively taken away the highest kilometers of rocks that were initially present. Rocks that were formerly buried and squashed beneath the weight of miles of rock are now exposed at the summit of the Blue Ridge Mountains, where we can view them at The Blowing Rock and other locations in this region.

High pressure and temperature altered (metamorphosed) these ancient rocks over hundreds of millions of years while they were still buried. These metamorphic rocks are known as GNEISS (pronounced "lovely" by geologists). Geologists from the United States Geological Survey assessed the age of the gneiss to be 1,055 million years. The quantity of radioactivity still present in the tiny crystals of the mineral zircon found in the rock determines the age. The Geological Survey of the United States has officially named this rock as THE BLOWING ROCK GNEISS.

Strong pressure in the earth's crust developed many of the characteristics seen at The Blowing Rock during the development of the Blue Ridge Mountains. These characteristics include a "striped" look generated by the arrangement of mineral crystals in the rock. Many microscopic fissures in the rock were also formed by the pressure. These fissures have been developed and exacerbated by weathering. Running water erosion has eroded the weathered material to such a degree that the current shape of The Blowing Rock has been formed.

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