this guide, when Shenandoah's past is described, we have tried to tell the story based on the most up-to-date historical research. If certain elements of this story tweak your interest you are encouraged to read the many publications cited in the text and if you still want more, go to the publications cited and seek out their reference documents. One publication, "Shenandoah, The Story Behind the Scenery," by Hugh Crandell and Reed Engle, is especially recommended as an overview. It is well written and contains superb illustrations. It is available at the visitor centers or from the Shenandoah National Park Association.
Mountain Residents w/ Ranger Gibbs
Photo from National Park Service
Except for the stories in the rocks which are told later, our story begins about eleven thousand years ago, at the end of the Pleistocene glacial era, which was the last Ice Age. The form of the Blue Ridge was very much as we see it now. With a present-day topographic map we would have been able to identify all the familiar peaks and hollows. Hawksbill, then as now, was the highest point. There were cliffs on Mt. Marshall, waterfalls in Whiteoak Canyon, and talus slopes on Blackrock and Trayfoot.
The climate would have been uncomfortably cold, though the most recent ice age was nearing its end. While the area of Shenandoah National Park was never glaciated there still were glaciers 200 miles to the north. The mammoth, mastodon, and long-horned bison were the dominant animals, though all three were now endangered species. Hemlocks, balsam fir, and gray birch grew in the Valley