Author Timothy Silver to Speak at Annual Meeting October 9

Save the Date! On Saturday October 9 NC High Peaks will be holding its Annual Meeting at 10 am at the Burnsville Town Center. Our guest speaker will be Professor Timothy Silver author of "Mount Mitchell & The Black Mountains" the most detailed and comprehensive book about our Black Mountains. The following is a review of the book by Rebecca Blanco.

May be an image of tree, mountain, sky and text that says 'Mount Mitchell &the Black Mountains An Environmental History of the Highest Peaks in Eastern America Timothy Silver'

Book Review

Mount Mitchell and the Black Mountains

An Environmental History of the Highest Peaks in Eastern America

“Though it could hardly be described as pristine, this place retains an essential element of wildness, a sense of nature unfettered and unpredictable, that draws me back year after year.” Timothy Silver

For those who find themselves captivated by the Black Mountains and are curious about its story, Timothy Silver’s book is a must. Having gathered information from printed sources and from “reading the landscape,” he offers an in-depth historical account of the ways in which humans and landscape intersected in these unique Appalachian peaks.

A professor of Environmental History and a lifelong visitor to the Black Mountains, Silver expresses his dedication to the truism, “write what you know.” Like a skilled weaver, he interlaces numerous elements composing an eye-opening narrative which culminates in an encouraging vision of The Blacks' future.

Every chapter opens with personal accounts of the author’s visits to the mountains. Breathing “life into the story” they serve as poetic-like accompaniments to the historical narratives that follow.

Through these narratives we learn about the interglacial period that produced The Blacks, Pisgah Culture, European settlers, mountain man Big Tom, and the fight to establish Mt. Mitchell State Park. Featuring North Carolina’s “clear title to the highest mountains in the East,” the book tells of Elisha Mitchell’s success in proving that The Blacks surpassed Mt. Washington as the tallest peak.

Stories of achievements and setbacks, controversies and debates are told; all of which contributed to the uneasy uncertainty about the future of the Black Mountains. Chronicles portraying the incessant impact of economic forces on The Blacks’ wilderness may be the most sobering aspect of the book. Calling it a “curious blend” and “pondering on the irony,” Silver regularly contrasts the beauty of the natural world with the monetization of it.

Is the Black Mountains story a “tale of salvation” or a “tale of disintegration,” Silver asks at the end, compelling the reader to question what can be learned from The Blacks’ past to impact its future. He leaves us with an invitation to consider adopting a “gardener’s ethic” which enables us to recognize The Blacks as a place where the entanglement of humans and nature is inevitable and where “people can be agents of positive change in the region.”