Hickory Nut Falls and the Rocky Broad River
Earlier this month I wrote a post about a traveler’s account from 1859 of the Hickory Nut Gap through the Blue Ridge. One of the most beautiful features along the gap is the Hickory Nut Falls. The 400 foot drop of the falls is one of the longest anywhere east of the Mississippi. With little rain in the winter, the stream falling from the top of the gorge often turns to to an imperceptible mist before hitting the rocks far below. With recent rains however, the stream was quite substantial this week, and I made this video earlier in the morning. The small creek leading away from the falls runs into The Rocky Broad River 600 feet below at the bottom of the gorge. This river was formed during the last ice age, and the giant boulders that had been scraped away from the granite mountains and carried along with the moving glacier were left in the river basin as the ice finally melted away. For millenia, the river brought silt into a large bottomland basin, and in 1927, a 150 foot hydroelectric dam was built, creating Lake Lure. During the 18th century, explorers called two different rivers on either side of the Eastern Continental Divide by the same name, Broad River. When settlers began to replace the Native Americans along the Blue Ridge, the rivers needed to be differentiated. Because the French had been trapping fur animals along the western waters of the two, it was renamed the French Broad River, and today, passes through Asheville on its journey to the Tennessee River, and the Mississippi. The river to the east was called the Rocky Broad River because of the numerous rocks scattered all along its course through the Hickory Nut Gorge. Today the river passes through Chimney Rock Village at the eastern end of the gorge on its way to Columbia, South Carolina, and eventually the Atlantic Ocean.