The Taconic Mountains (/təˈkɒnɪk/) are a 150-mile-long sub-range of the Appalachian Mountains lying on the eastern border of New York State and adjacent New England. The range, which played a role in the history of geological science, is separated from the Berkshires and Green Mountains to the east by a series of valleys, principally those of the Housatonic River, Battenkill River and Otter Creek. The Taconics' highest point is Mount Equinox in Vermont at 3,840 feet (1,170 m); among many other summits are Dorset Mountain, Mount Greylock and Mount Everett.[1][2][3]

Taconic Mountains
Mount Equinox (3,840 ft) in Vermont is the high point of the Taconic range
Highest point
PeakEquinox Mountain, Bennington County, Vermont
Elevation3,850 ft (1,170 m)
Orogenies of the northeast United States
CountryUnited States
StateNew York, Connecticut,
Massachusetts, Vermont
Regionwestern New England,
eastern New York
Range coordinates42°41.5′N 73°17.1′W / 42.6917°N 73.2850°W / 42.6917; -73.2850
Parent rangeAppalachian Mountains
BiomeNorthern hardwood forest,
OrogenyTaconic Orogeny
Age of rock440 million years
Type of rockThrust fault

Forests are predominately maple-beech-birch with some spruce-fir at higher elevations, "and oak and hickory common to the south and at lower elevations."[4] The area is part of the New England-Acadian forests ecoregion.[5] Although mostly private property, the Taconics contain a half-dozen sizable state forests and parks, as well as many preserves of lesser acreage protected by land trusts.[6][7][8][9][10] Several hundred miles of trails are within these mountains, including parts of the Appalachian Trail.

Geology Edit

The range is part of the Taconic Allochthon, a local rock structure which traveled to its current position from about 25 miles to the east through low-angle thrusting.[11] Rocks of this allochthon are older than the strata lying beneath, and consist of slate, phyllite, and schist, "plus some minor lenses of limestone." The structure is larger than the current Taconic Mountains, extending westward toward the Hudson River. It formed during the Ordovician period in the collision of the North American Plate into a volcanic island arc.[2][12]

E-An Zen proved this allochthon's existence in 1966 via a study of the region's faulting, although it had been proposed around 1906 by Rudolf Ruedemann and separately by Arthur Keith, each using concepts associated with French geologist Marcel Alexandre Bertrand. Their proposals regarding the Taconics, however, were viewed as unproven and controversial until Zen's work.[13][14][15][16]

An earlier and largely separate dispute over the age of the Taconic Mountains based on the region's sparse fossil record began in the 1830s and centered on the conflicting theories of Ebenezer Emmons of Williams College and James Hall of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Initially Hall gained decisive support from prominent scientists of the day, including Louis Agassiz and Charles Lyell. Yet as late as the 1880s the leading geologists James Dwight Dana (Yale University) and Jules Marcou wrote of continued disagreements over Emmons' theory.[17][18][19] This early phase of ideas about the Taconic Mountains is compared with the Great Devonian Controversy that preoccupied British geologists for part of the 19th century.[13][14]

Nomenclature Edit

Taconic is likely from a Delaware word meaning "in the trees".[20] The spelling "Taghkanic", among several variant transliterations, is current for about a half-dozen locales, mostly within the immediate region.[21][22] As written English, the term appears in a 1685 petition for the right to purchase land in western Massachusetts.[23] Timothy Dwight IV used the name "Taughkannuc Mountain" in an account of his 1781 ascent of the summit later named Mount Everett. Dwight's account was deemed the "first recorded ascent" of that peak in a 1989 text on regional hiking history.[24][25]

The term first entered geological literature in 1819 with Chester Dewey's "Sketch of the Mineralogy and Geology of the Vicinity of Williams' College". It gained prominence in the field when Dewey's protégé Emmons proposed the existence of a "Taconic System" in 1839 (see above). In the 20th century, it became attached to the theory of an Ordovician mountain-building event involving much of what is now eastern North America named the "Taconic Orogeny".[26]

Sub-ranges and geographical segments Edit

South Taconics Edit

This area includes a locally significant and expansive area of undisturbed forest, although only a fraction is assured protection from development. Mount Washington State Forest and Taconic State Park are among the larger public properties within the immediate region. The highest summit here is Mount Everett 2,624 feet (800 m), home of a pitch pine and scrub oak biome. Others include Mount Frissell, the south slope of which contains the highest point in Connecticut at 2,379 feet (725 m); Bear Mountain 2,326 feet (709 m), the highest mountain peak in Connecticut; Alander Mountain 2,239 feet (682 m), Brace Mountain 2,311 feet (704 m),; and Mount Fray 1,893 feet (577 m), home of the Catamount Ski Area. The Appalachian Trail traverses the eastern escarpment of the range; the 21.3-mile (34.3 km) South Taconic Trail traverses the western escarpment, passing near Bash Bish Falls, reputedly Massachusetts' highest waterfall.

Central Segment and Upper Hoosic River Valley Region Edit

From Catamount Ski Area north to the Hoosic River Valley, a straight-line distance of about 50 miles, the crest initially shifts slightly west. Notable summits in the southern part of this segment are Bald Mountain, 1,768 feet (539 m), and Harvey Mountain, 2,057 feet (627 m), as well as Beebe Hill, 1,726 feet (526 m), with its summit fire tower.[27]

Several miles to the northeast of Harvey Mountain is West Stockbridge Mountain and the Lenox Mountain massif; taken together, modern conservationists have named these two separate areas Yokun Ridge, an 9-mile (14 km) zone extending from the Massachusetts Turnpike to the southerly neighborhoods of Pittsfield at elevations ranging between roughly 1,000 and 2,000 feet (300 and 610 m).[28]

At Pittsfield, the crest shifts west once again to hills contained within Pittsfield State Forest and the contiguous Balance Rock Park and Bates Memorial State Park, where heights include Holy Mount 1,968 feet (600 m), (once the location of religious rituals practiced by a former Shaker community) and Berry Hill 2,200 feet (670 m), notable for its extensive stands of wild azalea.

Misery Mountain (left) and Berlin Mountain (right) seen from the east in South Williamstown, MA

North of Jiminy Peak 2,392 feet (729 m), the valley of Kinderhook Creek cuts through the hills. Here the westernmost ridgeline is dominated by Misery Mountain and Berlin Mountain 2,818 feet (859 m) and extending into Pownal, Vermont. In this vicinity is Mount Greylock 3,491 feet (1,064 m), the highest point in Massachusetts and the long ridge of 2,621 feet (799 m) Brodie Mountain.

Mount Greylock with its glacial cirque, the Hopper, is geologically part of the Taconic Mountain Range although culturally associated with the Berkshires

Significant public property within the Taconics' central segment includes New York's Beebe Hill and Harvey Mt. State Forest,[29][30] Berlin State Forest, Pittsfield State Forest and the contiguous Taconic Ridge State Forest and Taconic Trail State Park in New York and Massachusetts, respectively, as well as the Mount Greylock State Reservation.

Within this segment are also three long-distance trails (the Appalachian Trail, the Taconic Crest Trail, and the Taconic Skyline Trail)s.[31][32][33][34][35]

Southern Vermont Edit

North of the Massachusetts border, the profile of the Taconic Range is cut by the Hoosic River in the vicinity of Bennington, Vermont. Mount Anthony 2,320 feet (710 m), notable for its caves and as the location of the former Southern Vermont College, stands as a satellite peak above the surrounding eroded terrain. North of Bennington, the range gradually rises to its highest prominence with peaks such as Mount Equinox 3,850 feet (1,170 m), the high point of the Taconic Mountains, and Dorset Mountain 3,770 feet (1,150 m), a New England 100 Highest list summit. Other notable summits include Grass Mountain 3,109 feet (948 m), a New England Fifty Finest list mountain; and Mount Aeolus 3,230 feet (980 m), the location of several defunct marble quarries and the site of Aeolus Cave an important bat hibernaculum. Designated hiking trails are located on Mount Equinox, Dorset Mountain, and Mount Aeolus, and several other peaks within the region.[1][36][37][38][39][40]

Northern terminus Edit

Immediately north of Danby, Vermont, the Taconic Range broadens and becomes lower. It exhibits several parallel ridgelines, dominated to the west by mountains composed of slate and similar rock, most notably the ridgeline of Saint Catherine Mountain 1,200 feet (370 m), with its conspicuous 5-mile (8.0 km) long cliff face visible from Wells and Poultney. The area around Lake Saint Catherine contains extensive slate quarries. The ridgeline to the east, composed of schist and phyllite, is dominated by the 7-mile (11 km) escarpment of Tinmouth Mountain 2,835 feet (864 m), overlooking the Valley of Vermont to the east in the town of Tinmouth. A field of less descript ridges and peaks lies between these two summits.[3][41][42][43]

Near the end of the range, in the vicinity of Rutland, Vermont, the Taconic Mountains show several prominent peaks with dramatic, irregular cliff faces clearly visible from U.S. Route 4 west of the city of Rutland; these include Herrick Mountain 2,726 feet (831 m); Grandpa's Knob 1,976 feet (602 m), the former site of the Smith–Putnam wind turbine, the first large-scale electricity-producing wind turbine; and the butte-like Bird Mountain (also called Birdseye Mountain) 2,216 feet (675 m), home of the Bird Mountain Wildlife Management Area and notable as an important raptor migration path and nesting site. Also part of the Taconic Mountains are the foothills of the Lake Bomoseen region west of Birdseye and Grandpa's Knob, notable for their extensive slate quarrying operations. North of Grandpa's Knob, the Taconic Range soon diminishes into scattered hills which extend north into the Burlington, Vermont region. Isolated summits in this area include Snake Mountain 1,281 feet (390 m), a Nature Conservancy preserve featuring a variety of rare and endangered species; and Mount Philo 968 feet (295 m), home of Mount Philo State Park with its mountaintop campground.[41][44][45][46][47]

Conservation Edit

Along with various state properties, some mentioned elsewhere in this article, the Berkshire Natural Resources Council and the Nature Conservancy have been active in the region. The U.S. Forest Service has designated several areas within the Taconics under its Forest Legacy Program, which affords subsidies for the acquisition of conservation easement, although practical effects have been limited.[48] Minor fragments of the Green Mountain National Forest are located in the Northern Taconics. Multi-partner collaboratives that have targeted the Taconic Mountains with limited results and include the New England Wildlands and Woodlands Collaborative, a regional conservation agenda for the New England states produced by representatives of dozens of non-profits and academic institutions and, more specifically, the Taconic Crest Project, which involves the states of New York, Massachusetts, and Vermont in collaboration with local land trusts and The Nature Conservancy.[6][7][8][9][10]

Natural resources extraction Edit

Natural resource extraction has been an important industry in the Taconic Mountains; extraction industries have included marble, limestone, slate, and iron mining as well as logging and charcoaling.[8][9]

See also Edit

References Edit

  1. ^ a b Day Hiker's Guide to Vermont 5th ed. (2006). Green Mountain Club: Waterbury Center, Vermont
  2. ^ a b Raymo, Chet and Raymo, Maureen E. (1989). Written in Stone: A Geologic History of the Northeastern United States. Chester, Connecticut: Globe Pequot.
  3. ^ a b Doll, Charles G. Centennial Geologic Map of Vermont (1961). United States Geological Survey: Washington
  4. ^ Griffith, G.E., Omernik, J.M., Bryce, S.A., Royte, J., Hoar, W.D., Homer, J., Keirstead, D., Metzler, K.J., and Hellyer, G., 2009, Ecoregions of New England (color poster with map, descriptive text, summary tables, and photographs): Reston, Virginia, U.S. Geological Survey (map scale 1:1,325,000)
  5. ^ Olson, David M.; Dinerstein, Eric; et al. (2001). "Terrestrial Ecoregions of the World: A New Map of Life on Earth". BioScience. 51 (11): 933–938. doi:10.1641/0006-3568(2001)051[0933:TEOTWA]2.0.CO;2.
  6. ^ a b "Taconic Crest Project" Rensselaer Land Trust. Retrieved February 13, 2011. "Taconic Crest Project". Archived from the original on 2015-05-25. Retrieved 2015-05-25.
  7. ^ a b [1] "Equinox Highlands, Manchester and Dorset, Vermont." The Nature Conservancy. Retrieved February 13, 2011.
  8. ^ a b c Wildlands and Woodlands: A Vision for the New England Landscape. Harvard Forest (2010). Harvard University.
  9. ^ a b c South Taconic Range: Trail Guide and Map. Berkshire Natural Resources Council (2002). Pittsfield, Massachusetts.Also available online Archived 2007-06-29 at the Wayback Machine; Retrieved December 27, 2008.
  10. ^ a b "The Nature Conservancy and Intel Corporation Launch Berkshire Taconic Landscape Educational Web Site; New Educational Site for Parents, Students & Teachers Includes Educational Lesson Plans." (2002) PR Newswire Association, duplicated by Retrieved February 13, 2011. LLC [2]
  11. ^ Potter, D. B. (1968-12-01). "Time and space relationships of the Taconic allochthon and autochthon [book review]". American Journal of Science. 266 (10): 995–996. Bibcode:1968AmJS..266..995P. doi:10.2475/ajs.266.10.995. ISSN 0002-9599.
  12. ^ : Griffith, G.E., Omernik, J.M., Bryce, S.A., Royte, J., Hoar, W.D., Homer, J., Keirstead, D., Metzler, K.J., and Hellyer, G., 2009, Ecoregions of New England (color poster with map, descriptive text, summary tables, and photographs): Reston, Virginia, U.S. Geological Survey (map scale 1:1,325,000).
  13. ^ a b Schneer, Cecil J. (1978). "The Great Taconic Controversy". Isis. 69 (2): 173–191. doi:10.1086/352002. ISSN 0021-1753. JSTOR 230428. S2CID 143647509.
  14. ^ a b "The Taconic Controversy: What Forces Make a Range?," Appalachia: Vol. 73: No. 1, Article 5.
  15. ^ Potter, D. B. (1968). "Time and space relationships of the Taconic allochthon and autochthon [book review]". American Journal of Science. 266 (10): 995–996. Bibcode:1968AmJS..266..995P. doi:10.2475/ajs.266.10.995.
  16. ^ Zen, E-an (1967). Time and Space Relationships of the Taconic Allochthon and Autochthon. Geological Society of America Special Papers. Vol. 97. Geological Society of America. doi:10.1130/spe97.
  17. ^ Hyatt, Alpheus (1899). "Jules Marcou". Proceedings of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. 34 (23): 651–656. ISSN 0199-9818. JSTOR 20020948.
  18. ^ Bryan, Clark W. (1886). The book of Berkshire, describing and illustrating its hills and homes (see page 21). The Library of Congress. Great Barrington, Mass., New York [etc.] C.W. Bryan & co.
  19. ^ "Dictionary of scientific biography : [Volumes 9 & 10]". 1981.
  20. ^ "Taconite, The Derivation of the Name" Edward W. Davis, Minnesota History magazine [3]
  21. ^ "Geographic Names Information System".
  22. ^ Lake Taghkanic State Park Archived 2008-04-29 at the Wayback Machine New York Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation. Retrieved January 4, 2009.
  23. ^ Davis, Edward W., Taconite: the derivation of a name (PDF), Minnesota Historical Society, archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-03-20, retrieved 2023-04-13
  24. ^ Travels in New-England and New-York. Timothy Dwight.
  25. ^ page 79, Forest and Craig, Laura and Guy Waterman, 1989, AMC
  26. ^ page 175, text and footnote 6, "The Great Taconic Controversy", Schneer, C.
  27. ^ "Beebe Hill info". Archived from the original on 2009-08-19. Retrieved 2010-03-15.
  28. ^ (2009) United States Board on Geographic Names. Database entry. [4]. Retrieved February 10, 2011.
  29. ^ "Beebe Hill & Harvey Mt. State Forests - NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation".
  30. ^ [ Archived May 30, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
  31. ^ Massachusetts Trail Guide (2004). Boston: Appalachian Mountain Club.
  32. ^ Yokun Ridge (2005). Berkshire Natural Resources Council. Pittsfield, Massachusetts.
  33. ^ Mount Greylock (2001). Berkshire Natural Resources Council. Pittsfield, Massachusetts
  34. ^ "Key parcel on Taconic Ridgeline protected" Berkshire Natural Resources Council. Retrieved January 4, 2008.
  35. ^ "Welcome to the...Beebe Hill Fire Tower." Retrieved January 4, 2008.
  36. ^ Southern Vermont College Archived 2011-07-09 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved January 4, 2008.
  37. ^ "Back Issues of The Northeastern Caver" The Northeastern Caver. Retrieved January 4, 2008.
  38. ^ Maizlish, Aaron (2003)."Northeastern US Mountains (New York and New England) Showing Peaks with 2,000 Feet of Prominence" Retrieved January 4, 2008.
  39. ^ "The New England Hundred Highest List." Archived 2008-11-21 at the Wayback Machine The Four Thousand Footer Club. Retrieved January 4, 2008.
  40. ^ "Local Conservation Projects funded by VHCB." Vermont Housing & Conservation Board. Retrieved January 4, 2008.
  41. ^ a b DeLorme Topo 6.0 (2004). Mapping software. Yarmouth, Maine: DeLorme.
  42. ^ Bomoseen State Park (1989). Vermont Agency of Natural Resources: Waterbury Center, Vermont.
  43. ^ Hitchcock, Edward(1831). Report on the Geology of Vermont. Harvard University.
  44. ^ "Birdseye Mountain Castleton/Ira, VT 1961–1962 to ~1967" New England Lost Ski Areas Project. Retrieved January 4, 2008.
  45. ^ "Bird Mountain Wildlife Management Area" (PDF). Vermont Agency of Natural Resources. Archived from the original (PDF) on December 30, 2006. Retrieved January 4, 2008.
  46. ^ "Historic Wind Development in New England: Grandpa's Knob" New England Wind Forum: United States Department of Energy. From "Breezin' through History", an article published in the Rutland Herald According November 4, 2004. Retrieved January 4, 2008.
  47. ^ "Wildlife Habitat and Public Access Protected on 151 Acres." (29 November 2005). The Nature Conservancy. Retrieved January 4, 2009.
  48. ^ DCR Site Help. Retrieved on 2014-04-12.

Further reading Edit