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Philip Prince and the Blue Wall

Meeting Date: March 10, 2020

The Blue Wall: Perspectives on an iconic southern Appalachian landform

The Blue Ridge Escarpment, often known as “The Blue Wall,” presents a distinct and defining backdrop to Greenville’s growing skyline. This band of rugged topography and its stunning yet surprisingly accessible landscapes have become an integral part of upcountry South Carolina life, providing recreational opportunities that increase the appeal of the Upstate to residents and visitors alike. While the Escarpment has long enjoyed great popularity as a destination in our area, the full extent of its geologic significance has only come to be fully appreciated in recent years. The bold cliffs and numerous waterfalls that define locations such as the Chattooga River, the Jocassee Gorges, Jones Gap, and Hickory Nut Gorge are reflections of the unique processes that continue to shape the Escarpment landscape, and hazards such as landslides serve as a reminder that geologic change is ongoing along its steep slopes. Researchers from across the country and beyond continue to explore the Escarpment, gathering information that is vital to keeping our interaction with this dynamic landscape sustainable and beneficial to Upstate life. The story of the Escarpment is particularly interesting when told from the perspective of an upstate native, whitewater-paddling geologist who “wrote the papers” (not the book, yet) on the processes that make “The Blue Wall” look as it does today.