The History & Geology of the Red River Gorge. The Red River Gorge is a stunning natural area located in the eastern part of Kentucky, USA. The gorge is known for its rugged sandstone cliffs, deep canyons, and winding rivers. The area is also rich in geological history and has been shaped by millions of years of geological processes. In this blog, we will delve deeper into the history and geology of Red River Gorge.
Geological History of Red River Gorge
The Red River Gorge is located in the heart of the Appalachian Mountains, which were formed over 300 million years ago during the Paleozoic Era. During this time, the area was covered by a shallow tropical sea, and the sediments from the sea floor eventually formed the sandstone and shale rock layers that make up the gorge. The Red River itself began to form around 100 million years ago during the Cretaceous Period, when the Appalachian Mountains were undergoing uplift and erosion. As the river flowed through the soft shale rock, it began to carve out the deep canyons and steep cliffs that we see today. Over the next few million years, the area underwent several periods of glaciation and deglaciation, which further sculpted the landscape. The most recent glaciation occurred around 10,000 years ago during the Pleistocene Epoch, and it is believed that the Red River Gorge area may have been covered by an ice sheet during this time.
Today, the Red River Gorge is still an active geological area, with frequent rockfalls and landslides occurring due to the unstable nature of the sandstone cliffs.
Human History of Red River Gorge
The Red River Gorge has a rich human history that dates back over 12,000 years. The area was inhabited by Native American tribes, including the Shawnee and Cherokee, who used the gorge as a hunting ground and a source of flint for making tools. European settlers began to arrive in the area in the late 1700s, and the first permanent settlement was established in the early 1800s. The settlers used the area for farming and timber harvesting, and the gorge was also a popular spot for moonshiners during the Prohibition era. In the 20th century, the Red River Gorge became a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts, and it was designated as a National Natural Landmark in 1975. Today, the area is protected as part of the Daniel Boone National Forest, and it is a popular destination for hiking, rock climbing, camping, and other outdoor activities.
The Red River Gorge is a fascinating place that has been shaped by millions of years of geological processes and human history. Whether you are interested in the natural beauty of the area or its rich cultural heritage, there is something for everyone to explore in this stunning part of Kentucky.