The Mountain that Rumbled!
By Russ Meade email@example.com
Lake Lure, NC
Many have asked how Rumblingbald got its name!
First please read this excellent article https://blogs.lib.unc.edu/ncm/index.php/2011/03/15/a-rumble-in-the-mountains/ and the following “
“A Rumble in the Mountains- In early February 1874, residents near Chimney Rock in western Rutherford County reported feeling the ground shake and hearing loud booms coming from the direction of Bald Mountain, a 3,020 foot peak in the Broad River basin. Some claimed to see smoke and vapors coming from within the earth, giving rise to fears of a soon-to-explode volcano. Panic set in among the locals as tremors continued over the ensuing two months.
As word spread of strange happenings in the mountains, the press descended on the region and wrote of the religious fervor the tremors inspired. J. Timothy Cole, author of The Rumbling Mountain of Hickory Nut Gap: The Story of North Carolina’s Most Celebrated Earthquakes, writes that the most vivid accounts of the Bald Mountain earthquake and resulting panic are found in the Daily News of Raleigh, the New York Herald and the Asheville Western Expositor. Capt. E.C. Woodson of the Daily News reported that on the evening of February 9th a local preacher holding a religious revival prayed that God would move the ” ‘the strong hearts of this wicked people’ ” by causing ” ‘the mountain to shake and tremble beneath their feet.’ ” According to Woodson’s account, the first tremors near Bald Mountain occurred the following day.
Whether coincidence or divine intervention, the earthquake prompted more religious meetings and a revival-like atmosphere. The Western Expositor records that residents stopped work. “Cattle, horses and hogs were turned to the woods,” the paper reported, “And the entire people within range of this awful excitement have concluded that they have but a few more days to live.” The New York Times eventually printed a dispatch from a Knoxville reporter under the multi-line header “A Volcano in North Carolina. Extraordinary agitation of Bald Mountain.Terrible Sights and Sounds.The Terror-Stricken Residents Praying During Sixteen Days.” Harper’s Weekly and Frank Leslie’s Illustrated News also joined in the coverage.
Wofford College professor Warren DuPre was sufficiently intrigued by the reports to mount an expedition to the region. Accompanied by a civil engineer, a preacher and about a dozen students, DuPre interviewed residents and hiked the terrain near Bald Mountain. During the course of its investigation, the team experienced several tremors firsthand. The group found no evidence of “gaping rocks, smoking peaks, sinking caverns, melting snows, etc, with which our newspapers have been teeming for many weeks past.” Eventually DuPre prepared a report for the Smithsonian Institution in which he ruled out rock blasting and electrical storms. But his explanation for the tremors was hardly conclusive. “The phenomena,” he wrote,”must be referred to that general volcanic or earthquake force, which seems as necessary to the economy of nature as light, heat or electricity.”DuPre’s words likely would not have calmed the fears of residents had the tremors not stopped by early May 1874.
Later, investigators of the tremors have suggested that the rumblings may have resulted from rock falls occurring in a vast network of caves that lies under Bald Mountain. Scientists continue to investigate the plates and substrata that lie underneath North Carolina’s mountains and debate the seismic risks faced in this part of the country. But there seems little dispute as to the origins of the descriptor that sets Rutherford County’s Bald Mountain apart from similarly named peaks in Avery, Jackson, Wautauga, Yancey, Davidson and Orange counties. Rumbling Bald Mountain claimed its title in the winter of 1874.”
Posted by John Blythe on March 15, 2011)