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Geology of the Highlands Plateau

June 23, 2022 @ 9:00 am - 6:00 pm

Bill Jacobs, Author of Whence These Special Places? The Geology of Cashiers, Highlands & Panthertown Valley 

This workshop has grown out of Bill Jacobs’ book, Whence These Special Places? The Geology of Cashiers, Highlands & Panthertown Valley.  As reflected in both the book and his talks, Bill is particularly fascinated with how geologic processes, some dating back more than 500 million years, have produced today’s mountains and waterfalls.  He will discuss such questions as:

– How did the rocks in our mountains form and get to where they now are, and how has that history determined the appearance of today’s landscape?
– What created the high-elevation area we call the Highlands-Cashiers Plateau?
– Little Sliding Rock and Glen Falls are both much-loved cascades on the Plateau, but one is so smooth you can slide on it and the other is a series of jagged precipices – why the difference?
– What in the world is Shining Rock, and is there anything else like it in the world?
– Why is Rock Mountain gently rounded while nearby Chimneytop has a chimney?  What gives Whiteside Mountain its unique character, with precipitous cliffs standing high above a more gently rounded base?

The workshop format will provide time for a richer discussion than is possible in shorter talks, as well as for questions and examination of rock samples and geologic maps.  To close out the classroom activities, Bill will provide a “virtual field trip” to numerous nearby sites, such as Sunset Rock, Glen Falls, Little Sliding Rock, Whiteside Mountain and Devil’s Courthouse, and the Cullasaja waterfalls, to help participants better appreciate the geology on display during their future visits to these special places.

After lunch (on your own) Bill will lead an optional excursion to High Falls, below Lake Glenville Dam.  At this extraordinary site, participants can examine up close how different rock groups have been complexly mixed together, and how their different characteristics are reflected in both the exposed rocks and the overall shape of the falls.  (Note – this excursion requires over 600’ of elevation gain on uneven surfaces, as well as rock-hopping around the base of the falls.  It should be undertaken only by experienced, confident hikers).

As in the book, Bill will use language and concepts easily understood by non-scientists, with numerous photographs and illustrations.   He will also provide several handouts, and will be delighted to respond to questions, whether about the book or the geology. Signed copies of Whence These Special Places? will be available for purchase through Highlands Biological Station’s Nature Center.  Additional information about both the book and its author may be found at www.GreatRockPress.com. 

Cost$60 for morning session (9am – 12pm); $100 for morning session and hike to High Falls (strenuous) in afternoon (1pm – 6pm).

Click here to register.


June 23, 2022
9:00 am - 6:00 pm
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Highlands Biological Station
265 North 6th St
Highlands, NC 28741 United States
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